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Charles Town to simulcast races

April 02, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - With revenues steadily increasing at Charles Town Races, the oval is ready to move into simulcast racing to compete with other tracks in the country, track officials said Friday.

Through simulcasting, Charles Town will broadcast its races to other horse tracks and off-track betting parlors, a move that it hopes will build wagering pools and attract more bettors, track officials said.

The millions of dollars generated at the track through video lottery has allowed average daily purses at the track to go from $23,000 to $65,000, said Frank Carulli, publicity coordinator for the track.

The bigger purses have attracted better horses to Charles Town, and track officials hope that will increase interest in the oval among racing fans across the country.

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Carulli said the track will simulcast its races by sending a signal to other tracks and betting parlors by satellite. So far, no contracts have been signed to send the signal, he said.

The track plans to be simulcasting May 3, two days after the Kentucky Derby.

Patrons who bet on Charles Town's races from other sites will place bets at that location. Tracks that have simulcast contracts with Charles Town will then forward revenues to the local track, said Dick Watson, president of the Horsemens Benevolent and Protective Association.

Charles Town can send its signal to hundreds of tracks and off-track betting parlors, Carulli said. The track also would like to send its signal to casinos in Las Vegas, he said.

There is "a steady cash flow there for sure," Carulli said.

To compete with other thoroughbred tracks that race in the evening, Charles Town will move its live post time from 4 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Watson said.

The simulcast races will show more than just horses rounding the three-quarter-mile oval, said Carulli. The broadcast will feature a host who will talk about Charles Town Races, and there will be graphics describing the record of the various horses, Carulli said.

The track also can market unique characteristics about the oval, such as its shorter track, which produces faster races, he said.

"It could be anything, and as elaborate as you want. It's an exposure thing as much as revenue," Carulli said.

The track is making improvements to ensure a quality signal, such as upgrading lighting and adding more cameras, he said.

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