‘Industry is fragmented’ says America Tab chief
By maddy
AmericaTab, the interactive wagering operator is calling out for change.

The 10-year old company’s President Charlie Ruma says, ‘Handle declines at major winter meets aren't good for racing. It's time for a fragmented industry to move forward in the best interests of its customers, racetracks, and horsemen.’

The 10-year old company in a memo this week to its account-holders said business through the wagering service was up 45.8 percent in January and 28.4 percent in February even though it had no access to signals from racetracks owned by Magna Entertainment Corp (MEC). AmericaTab reportedly took in more than 1,000 new accounts in the last two months.

Last year MEC pulled the plug from account wagering providers such as AmericaTab to encourage its XpressBet account betting service. MEC's decision to pull signals from other account wagering services created uproar with players boycotting the company’s tracks.

XpressBet has reported a slide of was down 18.4% for 2004 even though overall handle from account wagering companies was up 26.5% the first two months of the year compared with the same period in 2003.

‘Long-term account wagering is a critical piece of our business. We are tinkering with our business model in an attempt to ensure fair pricing and more revenue for tracks and horsemen,’ says MEC president Jim McAlpine.

However Ruma of AmericaTab doesn’t expect truce with MEC in the near future.

‘In spite of our success, I am dismayed about the [overall] state of the industry,’ says Ruma. He believes no matter how competitive AmericaTab, the industry, as a whole needs to succeed in order for companies to survive on the long term.

Mike Veitch, chief marketing officer for Youbet.com agrees. ‘Business is better without the MEC tracks, and customers have shown a preference for Internet sites over content,’ he says.

‘To have two major American racetracks experiencing a decline in business is not good for the industry. We all should be watching, wagering, and participating in the programs of each racetrack without interferences,’ adds Ruma.

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