Beginning of Site Wagering and Account Establishing
or even create new jobs. Conversely, opponents contend that track owners view EGD’s as means of transforming their businesses into quasicasinos, thereby allowing them to capture the much larger profits characteristic of that form of gambling, and that the pari-mutuel aspect of the business will be allowed to wither. They also oppose the further spread of casino-style gambling in the form of assisting racetracks. Currently, Delaware, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and West Virginia allow EGD’s at their racetracks. According to the National Council Against Legalized Gambling, efforts to legalize EGD’s at pari-mutuel facilities have failed in 12 states since 1995.
SIMULCASTING AND ACCOUNT WAGERING
In addition to EGD’s and slot machines, the parimutuel industry is taking advantage of advances in communication technology and changes in regulations to expand gambling opportunities. In 1978, Congress passed the Interstate Horseracing Act (IHA), 15 U.S.C. Sec. 3001-3007, which extended authority for States and the pari-mutuel industry to provide regulated interstate wagering on races. The law allows the racing industry to create larger wagering pools by combining bets from sources beyond the originating track. To facilitate interstate wagering, the pari-mutuel industry uses satellite communications to instantaneously broadcast races, known as “simulcast” wagering. Even before passage of the IHA, wagering was available at off-track venues, commonly known as off-track betting (OTB) sites. In 1970, the New York legislature approved the first OTB operation. Since then, simulcast wagering has grown rapidly both in the United States and internationally.
Along with OTB sites, racetracks began offering telephone account wagering services to their 68 The American Horse Council, Written testimony to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, Subcommittee on Enforcement, Regulation and the Internet (May 21, 1998). patrons. Racing patrons now can establish accounts with licensed racetracks in eight of the nine authorized states, which are Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Oregon.69 To establish accounts, individuals must appear in person or provide documentation by mail as well as deposit money in an account, which may be increased or reduced according to their wins and losses. According to the American Horse Council, most money wagered on races now occurs at sites other than where the originating race takes place.70 Recent industry figures estimate that off-track and simulcast wagering constitute more than 77 percent of the total annual amount wagered on pari-mutuel races;71 in 1997 they accounted for $11.8 billion of the $15 billion industry total.72 In 1998 the amount wagered through telephone account wagering systems reached almost $550 million.73 Although previously available in some regions for a number of years, various efforts are now underway to expand the broadcasting of races directly into the home, and in some cases, offer accompanying account wagering. Several companies are developing racing channels, which are offered either through basic cable or as a subscription-based channel. For example, Television Games Network (TVG) is a company that combines several communications technologies to provide coverage and account wagering in the home. United Video Group, under its parent company, TV Guide, Inc., operates TVG through the use of satellite technology to broadcast live horse races on a cable channel. To access this technology, hardware is installed on bettor’s television set, enabling him or her to use special remotes to scroll through on-screen information menus. To