TVG hires Hal Handel; Woodbine wants sports betting; Tapie stops pretending

tvg-woodbine-tapieBetfair-owned US horseracing betting outfit Television Games Network (TVG) has hired former New York racing exec Hal Handel to help sell Americans on the exchange wagering concept. Handel, who was COO of the New York Racing Association for the past four years, will “provide strategic advice and direction to TVG’s television network and its [account-wagering] business” and “act as a liaison between the company and key stakeholders in the US racing industry.” New Jersey and California have already passed legislation allowing exchange wagering, although the necessary deals with racetracks and horsemen have been slower in coming.

North of the border, the operators of Toronto’s Woodbine racetrack are looking to expand their horizons. The Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) has decided it wants to be a part of any future legal sports betting system in Canada. CEO Nick Eaves told the Toronto Sun that his outfit has been “actively supportive” of MP Joe Comartin’s single-game sports betting bill currently winding its way through Parliament. “Horse racing customers are sports bettors, generally. If it were an option, we are certainly of the belief that Woodbine and Mohawk [Racetrack] are logical places for a sports betting facility from the standpoint of them being complementary businesses.”

Sports betting has come under (fresh) fire in the US after allegations were made about point shaving by players on the University of Hawaii Warriors’ football team. While these allegations haven’t yet been proven, there are other underhanded ways of influencing the outcome of sporting contests. Bernard Tapie should know: the potential savior of Full Tilt Poker was convicted of fixing a match involving Olympique de Marseille football club in 1993 when Tapie was club president. Tapie recently let it be known that the main reason he signed Franz Beckenbauer as Marseille manager in 1990 was to influence referees, and through them, the outcome of games. And it’s all perfectly legal.

“Why pretend. The psychological influence that a big personality or club can exert is fundamental. Everyone says a lot of stupid things about corruption of referees: the envelopes, the prostitutes, the gold watches! Everyone forgets the human factor. A referee will always find it more difficult to whistle for a penalty against Real Madrid than Auxerre. In [Beckenbauer’s] first European Cup game, when he went to say hello to the referee, [the ref] asked him to sign the match ball. The objective had been met: in two minutes, his fame as a coach was at the service of the club.” You know, if Tapie really wants his negotiations with FTP’s shareholders and the DoJ to go smoothly, perhaps he ought to temporarily appoint, we don’t know, maybe porn star Sacha Grey as chief negotiator, rather than Tapie’s son Laurent.