Magna Plans Interactive Wagering System

Magna Entertainment is planning an interactive wagering system that will utilize television and the Internet, according to comments made by company president and CEO Mark B. Feldman.

`For the remainder of 2000, MEC's strategic focus will be on the development of branding initiatives to increase awareness of MEC as the source of the world's premier racing experience and the development of our interactive television and Internet programming service, scheduled for launch in the first quarter of 2001," Feldman said in a statement accompanying Magna's quarterly financial report. "Beginning with the Internet site, MEC intends to become the leading destination for news and information related to the sport of horse racing--including dissemination of wagering information--and for Internet and television based gaming. The media initiative will utilize proprietary interactive wagering technology including systems to interface telephone account wagering with totalizator wagering pools, both developed internally by MEC and licensed via strategic alliances with leading technology providers in the fields of interactive gaming, streaming audio and video and others. As the legislative and regulatory environment continues to recognize the permissibility of interstate wagering on pari-mutuel racing, the company intends to exploit its product strength to develop new customers and markets."

Feldman, former executive vice president of the E! Entertainment television network, assumed his position with Magna on Aug. 7, succeeding Jerry Campbell, who remained as the company's vice chairman and a director. Magna also hired Richard Goldberg, for vice president of new ventures content strategies for DirectTV to serve as adviser to Feldman and the board of directors.

A publicly traded spinoff of auto manufacturing conglomerate Magna International, Magna Entertainment operates Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields in California, Gulfstream Park in Florida, Remington Park in Oklahoma, Thistledown in Ohio, and Great Lakes Downs in Michigan. Magna-owned tracks accounted for 23% of all U.S. pari-mutuel wagering in 1999.

With all six of its horse racing tracks operating live during the second quarter of fiscal year 2000, Magna reported revenues of $53.8 million and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization of $9.1 million. Net income for the three-month period was $2,752,000 ($0.03 per share). For the same period in 1999, when Santa Anita was the only track then owned by Magna, the company had a net loss of $1,235,000 ($0.02 per share loss) on EBITDA earnings of $583,000 and revenues of nearly $20.8 million.

For the first six months of fiscal 2000, Magna reported earnings per share of $0.18, with net income of $14,732,000 and total revenues of $134.57 million. The company earned $0.10 per share during the first half of fiscal 1999, with net income of $8,090,000 and $60.7 million in revenues.