Santa Anita, Two Wagering Companies Reach Handle Agreement

By Steve Andersen
CYPRESS, Calif. - Santa Anita has reached an agreement with two leading account wagering companies for those firms to pay a greater share of their handle toward purses and to the track when their customers bet through accounts on mobile phones, laptops and tablets while attending races at Santa Anita.
 
The agreement starts opening day of the winter-spring meeting on Dec. 26, officials said.
 
The agreement was discussed at Thursday’s California Horse Racing Board meeting and was reached between Santa Anita and TVG and Xpressbet in recent days, racing officials said. Santa Anita and Xpressbet are owned by the same company, The Stronach Group.
 
Santa Anita has not reached an agreement with two other account wagering firms – TwinSpires.com and NYRABets - although track officials stressed that discussions would continue; they said they hope to reach agreement before the meeting’s opening day.
 
Two additional firms – Watch and Wager and BetAmerica – were not offered contracts for account wagering at the upcoming winter meeting. Those firms are expected to seek agreements with other California entities – such as another racetrack or horsemen’s group – to secure the necessary contracts to conduct account wagering.
 
Santa Anita officials said they sought agreement with only four account wagering firms, citing a crowded market of such companies.
 
The new agreement focuses on pinpointing whether bettors are ontrack when making wagers through account wagering companies, a process known as geolocating. Previously, bets placed on track through account wagering firms were considered off-track bets in financial agreements. Under the new structure, the bets will be considered ontrack wagers, and will provide additional funds to racetracks for commissions and to horsemen, through purses.
 
For years, track executives have seen handle migrate from ontrack business into account wagering providers and have sought greater revenue from account wagering firms.
 
Santa Anita president Joe Morris said after the racing board meeting that predicting the economic impact is difficult, but that track commissions and purses will benefit.
 
“On a big day, instead of getting up and getting in line at the window, people bet through their accounts,” he said. “We think the (handle) is measurable.”