Giving horseplayers a voice.

The Signal Impasse Part I

by: Jeff Platt    11/07/2008
Players are stakeholders too.
Introduction
Unless you've been living under a rock you can't help but notice many of your favorite track signals are missing from the lineup at your ADW.

I started writing this series because I feel it's my responsibility as H.A.N.A.'s president to keep H.A.N.A. members in the loop about events that impact Thoroughbred Racing. The Signal Impasse, where the horsemen are preventing track signals from going out to ADWs certainly qualifies as "an event." I've been able to contact and interview many of the participants whose names you've been reading about on internet message boards and articles published by the racing press.

The first thing I realized when I started talking to the people involved is that they aren't just names. They are human beings. They are people just like you and me. They have friends and they have families. They have lives outside of racing just like you and I do. It's really easy to forget that - especially when you read something you don't like on an internet message board. I'm as guilty as anybody. How many times have I completely lost it for a few mintes after reading a post where somebody in racing has said or done something I felt was detrimental to the game? Here I am about to embark on a mini-journey of sorts. Along the way I'm going to do something I've never done before. I'm going to spend the better part of a week picking up the phone and calling and talking to some of the very names whose actions have sparked enough frustration inside of me that I was driven to become one of H.A.N.A.'s founders.

Keep in mind that racing is just a game. It's a game that we love - a game where big money is involved - but a game nonetheless. The signal impasse has taken a toll on the people behind the game. No one involved in this is enjoying it. Nerves are frazzled and tempers flare on all sides. Some of the people involved have actually received death threats to themselves and family members over this. Man, no one deserves that. It really puts things in perspective when you consider that racing is just a game.



Part I Friday November 7, 2008

It's been a busy week. I've burned a ton of cell phone minutes talking to all sides involved in the signal wars... Track execs, horsemen, ADW operators, and yes - customers.

I just got off the phone with Jack Liebau, President of Hollywood Park, Chairman of Youbet.com. One thing that surprised me about our conversation was the frustration and exasperation I heard in the tone of his voice. His frustration comes from the fact that he gets it. Here is a track exec that really does understand the stupidity of the signal wars and how it impacts the customer. He understands that players not only have the option to spend their money elsewhere but are actively doing so. The following is a direct quote from him:

"It is of the utmost importance that the account wagering stalemate be immediately resolved."

Liebau isn't the only one who gets it. He shared with me an email received from Richard B. Shapiro, Chairman of the CHRB. One line from that email immediately caught my attention:

"Any cessation of providing customers the opportunity to wager on California product is simply not acceptable at this time."

Apparently Shapiro gets it too.

When asked whether or not negotiations were ongoing or whether they had broken down completely, Liebau confided to me that they were indeed ongoing. He was even willing to share details of the latest offer with me.

Out of respect for Liebau I won't print the offer itself in this write up. If the offer does get accepted I'm certain the details will be picked up by the press.

What I WILL share with you is the following excerpt from a letter sent out today by Liebau to all of the involved parties:

"Hollywood has requested TOC to approve the terms offered by TwinSpires and XpressBet and is hopeful that other account wagering companies will be willing to offer wagering on Hollywood's races on the same terms as TwinSpires and XpressBet. Hollywood has also asked TOC to act expeditiously on the requested approval in the hope that wagering through account wagering companies could be reinstituted this weekend."

Liebau has impressed me as both a nice man and a track exec who "gets it."

Let's hope those responsible for accepting the offer on the part of the TOC and THG "get it" as well.

Jeff Platt

President, H.A.N.A.



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