TVG, Breeders' Cup Attempt to Mend Fences Over Wagering

TV Games Network and Breeders' Cup are looking for a way to make their controversial exclusive interactive-wagering agreement not so restrictive.

They are seeking a compromise with racetracks and other pari-mutuel wagering companies that are upset with an exclusive contract awarded to TVG by Breeders' Cup in early October. The long-term contract gives TVG exclusive rights to handle all pari-mutuel wagers made online, through interactive television, and through fully automated account-wagering systems on the $13-million championship.

Executives with Penn National Gaming and Greenwood Racing, which owns Philadelphia Park, deeply resent being cut off on one of racing biggest days. They cited the contract as the final straw when they decided, along with 20 other racetracks, to withdraw their memberships from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

"We are exploring ways to handle this issue this year," said Mark Wilson, TVG's president. "We want to get the focus back on Breeders' Cup."

The compromise will not include a waiver of TVG's exclusive rights. Gemstar-TV Guide, TVG's parent company, is providing Breeders' Cup with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of marketing and exposure including on-air promotion and a Breeders' Cup flip cover on TV Guide magazines sold in the four states in which TVG does business.

"In return, they gave us certain rights," Wilson said. He said a possible compromise could involve TVG selling licenses to take interactive wagers on Breeders' Cup.

Breeders' Cup president D.G. Van Clief said many of the problems with the TVG contract resulted from misunderstanding. He said the contract does not apply to an account wagering system that uses operators to take wagers. Beyond that, he said he could not comment on the ongoing discussions because of their sensitivity.

"The discussions are directed toward finding a solution that is at least in part addresses the dissention toward the NTRA," Van Clief said.