Keeneland Sports Betting Symposium to Examine New Possibilities for Horse Racing

The sports book at Monmouth Park opened in spring 2018. (Dan Tordjman photo)

Decades from now, June 9, 2018 may be fondly remembered as the day when Justify became the 13th Triple Crown winner.

Yet, at that same point in the future, another date in 2018 might be recalled for having a major impact on gambling in the United States.

For it was on May 14 that the Supreme Court sided with New Jersey and Monmouth Park and struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), paving the way for states to enact laws allowing sports betting.

With that ruling, horse racing had a new form of legal competition for wagering dollars, yet it also had a vehicle that could provide struggling racetracks with a new source of alternative revenue with the potential to become the difference between financial bliss and ruin.

Monmouth Park and Delaware Park were the first racetracks to benefit from the Supreme Court decision as they quickly opened areas of their facility to handle sporting betting. Racetrack officials at Monmouth Park say as much as $10 billion could be wagered annually on sports through the state’s racetracks and casinos during the first full year of booking bets.

Other states are also working on legislation to introduce sports betting, and how those laws are crafted on a state-by-state basis will ultimately decide how, or if, racetracks will benefit from gamblers being able to wager on football, baseball, basketball and virtually any other sport.

It is against that backdrop of a changing wagering landscape that BloodHorse and the Breeders’ Cup will present a symposium on “Sports Wagering and the Impact on Horse Racing” on Thursday, Sept. 6 at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion in Lexington, Ky., from 3-6 p.m. Eastern.

“Earlier in the year when the Supreme Court decision came down, if you were at a conference, that was what everyone was talking about and we thought now is the time to get our industry talking and collaborating on ideas about how to embrace sports wagering,” said Bryan Pettigrew, Chief Marketing Officer for Breeders’ Cup Limited. “Too many times in this sport we move slowly and miss out on ideas and we thought it would be best to work together on this as soon as possible, so (BloodHorse Editorial Director) John Keitt and (Breeders’ Cup President and CEO) Craig Fravel got together. They understood this is a time when racing needs to be in the forefront with collaboration rather than remain in the background, and they worked together to create this symposium.”

The town hall-style symposium, which has no admission fees, will offer three sessions with a variety of expert panelists, discussing sports betting’s impact on economics, politics and the consumer.

The list of nine featured speakers includes a Kentucky state legislator and representatives from a variety of fields with a stake in sports wagering, such as the National Basketball Association (NBA), gaming associations, ADWs and racetracks. They include Greg Means from the Alpine Group, a lobbyist for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA); Sara Slane, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for the American Gaming Association; John Hindman, General Counsel for FanDuel/TVG; Bill Knauf, Vice President of Business Operations at Monmouth Park; Dan Spillane, Senior Vice President, League Governance and Policy for the NBA; Sen. Damon Thayer (R-KY), Kentucky Senate Majority Floor Leader; Victor Bigio, a sports betting business development consultant for Sportech; Ed Hannah, Vice Chairman of the Stronach Group; and Daniel Shapiro, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for William Hill.

“We want to bring in expert speakers from leagues or people who are already in the sports betting field so they can share what the early results have been,” Pettigrew said. “It’s our hope that attendees can then meet with the panelists afterwards and continue the discussion so that when they return home they can make educated decisions on sports betting. If there’s an area in horse racing where collaboration is needed right now, it definitely involves sports betting.”

For information on free registration for the symposium, click here.

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