Arizona Downs cancels summer schedule amid row over OTB simulcasting

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A recently re-opened horseracing track in Arizona has reportedly been forced to cancel the remainder of its summer schedule after its simulcasting partner refused to provide it with out-of-state content for use by its network of off-track betting (OTB) sites.

Arizona Downs cancels summer schedule amid row over OTB simulcasting

Recent resurrection:

According to a Friday report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Arizona Downs was previously known as Yavapai Downs and only re-opened at the end of last month following a nine-year hiatus and an around $7 million refurbishment.

Rival reservations:

The newspaper reported that the horseracing facility on the outskirts of the town of Prescott Valley is about a four-hour drive from Las Vegas and had inked a deal that was to see Monarch Content Management supply it with action for broadcast at its OTB facilities in the communities of Flagstaff, Phoenix and Lake Havasu City. But, the provider has now declared that to make out-of-state content available would hurt the analogous satellite network operated by Turf Paradise and threaten the long-term existence of the rival Phoenix track.

Scott Daruty, President for Monarch Content Management, reportedly stated…

“It’s my belief that if Arizona Downs is allowed to go into the Phoenix marketplace and cannibalize the market, then Turf Paradise will not survive long term. We care because Turf Paradise currently produces 130 to 140 days of live racing a year and if it goes out of business we and our customers will lose access to that content.”

Legislative uncertainty:

Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey, recently signed legislation into law that will soon require simulcast firms providing out-of-state action to tracks in ‘The Grand Canyon State’ to make such content available to every one of the jurisdiction’s three horseracing venues, which also encompass Tucson’s Rillito Park. However, Monarch Content Management has purportedly indicated that it will be challenging this measure in court because it believes it to be unconstitutional under the Interstate Horse Racing Act.

Competitor pressure:

Tom Auther is one of the men behind a consortium that last year paid just over $3.2 million to save Arizona Downs from bankruptcy and he reportedly told the newspaper that he believes Turf Paradise may have played a role in pressuring Monarch Content Management, which is owned by The Stronach Group, into withdrawing the out-of-state content.

Auther reportedly told the newspaper…

“OTBs are the lifeblood of horseracing in our state because they fund the purse distribution to the horse owners, trainers, grooms and jockeys that compete at Arizona racetracks. Our OTBs need access to the same robust network of signals that Turf Paradise offers at its OTBs through Monarch Content Management.”

Operator optimism:

Auther added that Arizona Downs hosted its final day of racing on Sunday but that the venue remains confident of being able to resume a full live schedule from next summer.

He continued…

“We are heartbroken at the prospect of suspending our 2019 summer racing and for our employees and all the horsemen, trainers, jockeys and their families who stayed in Arizona to compete in our meet. However the successful passage of House Bill 2547 puts us on sound footing for a full summer meet in 2020.”

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