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Betfair could crack California yet...

As Betfair have progressed through various stages of lobbying and legislation in the States, I have been warning strongly of the hurdles that they still have to jump before they are allowed to operate - namely, reaching agreement with the Horsemen's Groups who hold a lot of power. One thing I overlooked though, was the American system of private tracks, and thus individual agreements with organisations who, more than likely, aren't all singing from the same hymn book.

Matt Hegarty from the Daily Racing Form has the latest....

Exchange wagering draws closer at California track

Live wagering on a betting exchange in California may be coming far sooner than the Thoroughbred industry expected in that state.

On Tuesday, Ed Comins, chief operating officer of Watchandwager.com – which recently purchased the small Northern California track Cal Expo – said that the company already has an agreement with the state’s harness horsemen to offer exchange wagering if rules recently adopted by the racing commission pass muster with the state’s Office of Administrative Review. Cal Expo also would need an agreement with an exchange-wagering operator, but the track already has a relationship with Betfair-TVG, which operates the most popular exchange-wagering platform in Europe and which has high hopes for the U.S. market. .. .. .. Exchange wagering remains a highly controversial subject in the United States despite recent gains by supporters in California, where a law authorizing the practice was passed two years ago. Because exchange wagering allows players to bet on horses to lose, critics remain troubled by the potential for the practice to create questions among the public over efforts put forth by riders and horses. In addition, Thoroughbred horsemen and racetracks have questioned whether the industry would receive an adequate return for its product under Betfair’s existing business model, which is estimated to return the equivalent of 1.5 percent of handle to the racing industry.

For those reasons, Thoroughbred horsemen in California recently agreed to table any approvals with an exchange-wagering operator for at least a year. But it’s possible that Cal Expo could be offering exchange wagering well before 2013 is over.

“We’re shooting for sometime next year, yes,” Comins said after his presentation. Comins said that exchange wagering in California could actually be first launched at Los Alamitos in Southern California, which runs Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racing year-round.

The law in California requires betting-exchange operators to reach an agreement with the track and the horsemen representing the track’s runners in order to go forward. Comins said that Cal Expo already has a “non-exclusive” agreement with Betfair to become its exchange-wagering partner if the rules are approved by the state’s Office of Administrative Review, which could happen as early as January.

Comins also said that Cal Expo’s harness races “would be a great product to test” exchange wagering because the races generally take approximately two minutes to run. One of the most popular products offered by exchange wagering platforms is so-called “in-play” betting, in which bettors offer new prices on entrants as the race is run.

Very interesting. Should it go ahead, the rest of the racing industry in the US (thoroughbred and harness) will be looking on very closely to see if the sky really does fall in. After all, they don't believe that horse racing can exist without race-day medication, despite what goes on in the rest of the world, so why take any notice of what happens in Australia, Ireland or the UK now?

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