NTRA Services Cans Application for Hub License

NTRA Services will not renew its license to operate a wagering hub in Oregon. Instead, the TV Games Network, for which the National Thoroughbred Racing Association subsidiary operates the hub, is expected to apply for the license itself.

The Oregon Racing Commission is scheduled to meet Friday in Grants Pass. NTRA Services' application for a 2001-2002 multi-jurisdictional simulcasting and interactive wagering totalizator hub license has been removed from the agenda.

"We reached a mutual agreement with TVG that it makes the most sense for them to handle hub operations directly," NTRA commissioner Tim Smith said. "For a number of months it has been apparent we were not the best hub operator for TVG."

Smith spoke in reference to objections by NTRA members, both past and present, who don't believe the organization should be involved in projects that compete with those of its membership. Racetracks particularly fought the NTRA's involvement in the betting hub.

TVG, a subsidiary of Gemstar-TV Guide, is an NTRA marketing partner. Smith said he expects that relationship to continue. As for the 0.75% cut of each dollar the NTRA gets from the wagering hub, Smith said that's under review.

"There's the likelihood we will continue to have some sort of mutually beneficial relationship, perhaps with funding involved," Smith said.

For the first quarter of 2001, the NTRA Services hub handled $6.1 million, the highest amount ever for a three-month period. That handle generated $46,000 in revenue for the NTRA, whose revised business plan calls for a push by the industry to realize the potential of account wagering.

TVG chief executive officer Mark Wilson couldn't be reached immediately for comment, but in a prepared statement, he said: "It's no secret that the NTRA's active involvement in the operation of a wagering hub has been a source of controversy for the organization. We have simply eliminated that source of controversy while remining supportive of the NTRA and its mission. Discussions are onoing with the NTRA as to how we work together in areas where we have mutual interest."

TVG's parent company is in the process of lining up cable providers that eventually plan to broadcast TVG in more markets. Currently, wagering through TVG is permitted only in Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, and Oregon.