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Account Wagering a Double Edged Sword for Racing

24 September 2002

FLORIDA – As reported by the Thoroughbred Times: "When the first International Simulcast Conference was conducted in 1993, the advent of extensive interstate simulcasting with merged pools loomed as the biggest issue in the racing industry.

"Today, simulcasting has exploded to account for about 85% of national handle and racing leaders take it for granted while looking ahead to the next revolutionary wave: account wagering.

"Yet account wagering, if not held on a tight rein, could turn into a runaway problem for racing, more than 370 attendees of the tenth annual conference were told when sessions began on Monday in Bal Harbour, Florida.

"…Some of the problems with account wagering include the fact that it is widely offered by offshore and other operators who do not contribute revenues back to racing while luring tracks' customers with enticing rebates and sometimes pirating signals and odds. Bettors have so many options that they do not need to play with tracks or companies that financially support racing.

"…Fair Grounds consultant Dick Powell, said that account wagering is no longer widely viewed as a huge untapped source of new dollars since many bettors wagering through accounts already have formed part of racetracks' existing clientele. Bettors will play where they get the best deals.

"…Todd Bowker, general manager of the America TAB account wagering system based in Ohio, agreed while speaking in a separate session. `I think every track in America needs to have a strategy for account wagering. It's the wave of the future,' he said.

"Meanwhile, American Horse Council President Jay Hickey warned that the United States House of Representatives could consider a bill next week that would ban the use of credit in account or Internet wagering. Even if the measure is passed by the House, however, it could run into opposition in the Senate, he said…"

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