Deal Gives ADWs Louisiana Downs Signal

Deal Gives ADWs Louisiana Downs Signal
Photo: File Photo
Louisiana horsemen have approved a deal allowing Youbet.com and Premier Turf Club the signal to Louisiana Downs, the first agreements reached with any advance deposit wagering companies under the auspices of negotiating with the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Group.

While saying the agreement with Youbet was not signed to terms that align completely with the THG’s proposed “one-third” revenue sharing model, the head of the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association said it was close, particularly when host fees, source market fees, and other marketing agreements from Youbet are considered in combination.

“Youbet’s offer to us was very consistent with what we are trying to accomplish with THG,” said Sean Alfortish, president of the Louisiana HBPA. “We thought it would be in the best interest of the horsemen and the industry to have accepted that offer and hopefully begin the process of other ADWs such as TrackNet and TVG to come to the plate with that reasonable expectation that they are going to have to give up a substantial amount of the takeout back to the track and horsemen.”

Terms of the agreement are confidential, Alfortish said, and officials with Youbet declined to comment through a spokesman. A call to Louisiana Downs was not immediately returned.

THG president Bob Reeves said his group did not recommend Louisiana horsemen accept the deal offered by Youbet.

“But our members can do whatever they feel they need to do,” he said. “We are just a broker, and all we can do is present the offers. They can either reject them or accept them. They (Louisiana horsemen) decided to accept the deal.”

Premier Turf Club, a cash rewards outlet operating out of North Dakota, reached its agreement with the Louisiana HBPA May 21. Premier Turf Club chief executive officer Ian Meyers said company partner Joe Riddell, Alfortish, and Louisiana Downs' Mark Midland hammered out the deal in the last 72 hours.

"It got done because they all wanted the same thing," Meyers said in a statement. "Sean is very cognizant of the needs of the customer, and Joe, as a former trainer, knows the horsemen need to be treated fairly. So they were able to strike a deal that works for the Louisiana HBPA, the track, and our clients. "

The Louisiana HBPA put Louisiana Downs on notice last week that it intended to shut down the track’s signal to certain ADWs the THG is targeting. The Louisiana Downs meet started May 17.

Stalled negotiations have stopped the distribution of signals to selected ADWs from tracks including Calder Race Course, Churchill Downs, Lone Star Park, Presque Isle Downs, River Downs, and Thistledown. Some tracks have responded with purse cuts, and Churchill Downs Inc. has filed an antitrust lawsuit that includes the THG, Kentucky horsemen, and Florida horsemen. Reeves said horsemen dealing with those various situations are still committed to the negotiation process and the THG model.

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