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Autotote Seeks to Broadcast Connecticut Races

29 August 2003

CONNECTICUT – As reported by the Connecticut Day: "Six men stood in the middle aisle of the race book at Foxwoods Resort Casino Thursday afternoon, their eyes fixed on a cinema-sized screen showing thoroughbreds running neck-and-neck toward the wire at Kentucky's Ellis Park.

"…Calvin Lewerk of Groton sat in the back row, sipping a cup of complimentary coffee as he watched the dogs at Plainfield Greyhound Park on one of the screens.

"…Lewerk and several other regulars said they would continue to come to the casino to watch the races and place their bets even if they could see them on television and bet over the phone. Autotote Enterprises, the company that runs Connecticut's off-track betting system, is seeking permission from the state to broadcast races on cable television. Viewers would be encouraged to place bets over the phone, a service that is legal and already widely available.

"John Ponzio, president of Autotote, said it is an issue of customer service.

"…Ponzio said Autotote has spoken to several cable providers in the center of the state about purchasing time on vacant channels. Connecticut residents placed $12 million in telephone bets with the company last year, an indication that they may already be watching the races on the Internet, where streaming video is available, or seeing them on satellite television. Twenty-eight other states, including New York, already allow televised racing and pari-mutuel wagering.

"…Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and groups that work with problem gamblers see the televised racing as an expansion of gambling in the state that would create more betting addicts.

"..For those in the pari-mutuel business, this would appear to be a good time to make racing more widely available…"

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