Saturday, April 18, 2009

Philly Phonebet Faces TrackNet Cut-Off

Customers of Philadelphia Park’s advance deposit wagering system may not have access to Pimlico Race Course signals when the Maryland track opens its live meet April 18 as the result of an ongoing dispute with TrackNet Media Group, the head of the content company has confirmed.

Other affiliated signals – including Churchill Downs’ spring meet and the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) – are also hanging in the balance as the respective parties have yet to come to terms for a new licensing agreement which TrackNet is requiring.

TrackNet president Scott Daruty, who oversees negotiations of signal deals for the joint venture between Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment Corp., claims Philadelphia Park has continued to operate in violation of its standing agreement by allowing wagers to go through its ADW platform, Philly Phonebet.

The content company last month asked Philadelphia Park to cease handling bets on TrackNet-affiliated tracks through the ADW, claiming the current agreement only allows for wagers to be placed through “brick-and-mortar” outlets such as the track and off-track locations. TrackNet is also seeking a “modest upcharge” in signal fees.

“Nothing has changed, and we have to take appropriate action,” said Daruty. “Barring any unexpected last-minute resolution, the Pimlico signal will not be made available, as will other content as it becomes available.”

Officials with Philadelphia Park, which was dark April 16, were not immediately available for comment. Philly Phonebet, which is one of the oldest ADWs in the United States, handled more than $115 million in wagers in 2007, the last year in which information was published by the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission.

Daruty said every other ADW in the country that is taking TrackNet-affiliated content has signed a new licensing agreement, save Philly Phonebet. He said the TrackNet is also requiring new unspecified security standards.

“All we are asking is for them to adhere to what every other account wagering company in the country has done,” he said.

In addition to Pimlico and Churchill Downs, which opens it live meet April 25, other potentially-affected signals in the short term include those for Calder Race Course, which opens April 24, and Arlington Park, which opens May 1.