Californian racing – A Net profit?
By Paul
Advance Deposit Wager (ADW) is already a hit with gamblers in California, according to Andrew Gaughan, vice president of New Media initiative for licensee Magna. “'Business exceeded our expectations”, he is reported as saying in gambling magazine “It shows there's a real market demand in California for this service.' XpressBet (a subsidiary of Magna) signed up hundreds of accounts for race meetings at Magna-owned racetracks since the site opened last Saturday.

John Harris, CHRB Commissioner, told OCN that ADW “should lead to increased total handle and higher purse levels which we need to do if we are to make racing horses a viable proposition.”

As to whether California can take back the business it has lost to out to overseas bookmakers, A spokesperson for the CHRB told OCN: “We do not believe that everyone will immediately cancel their accounts with offshore, illegal bookmakers, especially those services that offer large rebates, but we do believe that the security of the California system and the ease with which it will eventually operate will convince many bettors who have been using the illegal services to switch to the California system.”

Not everybody is entirely happy in California’s racing industry however. Despite granting the licenses, California Horse Racing Board Chairman Alan Landsburg remains unconvinced that the new channels aren’t going to eat into the on-track take.

'We have to bring people to the races, not take them away. We'll end up with more people sitting in Las Vegas, watching our races, than at our tracks.'

Indeed, the Californian racing industry as a whole seems ambivalent as to the benefits of ‘phone and Internet betting: The Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) negotiated a revenue-protection clause in their contract with Magna, with the contract renegotiable after a year. The TOC does not yet have a contract with the other licensee, TVG.

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