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Churchill Downs online exec quits; Calif. exchange betting in Bo Derek’s hands

TAGs: California, California Horse Racing Board, churchill downs incorporated, exchange wagering

churchill-downs-california-exchange-wageringThe top online exec at Kentucky-based racing operator Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) has bolted the stable. Rohit Thukral, exec VP of CDI’s technology initiatives and president of CDI’s online betting arm TwinSpires.com, resigned on March 19 “to pursue other opportunities,” according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Thukral held his most recent positions since May 2009, but his tenure with CDI dates back to December 2006. TwinSpires.com launched in 2007, and Thukral is credited with having “played a major role” in its success. A CDI spokesman told the Courier-Journal that the parting was amicable.

In California, the oft-delayed rules for exchange wagering will undergo further scrutiny by the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB). The CHRB announced the move at its monthly meeting in Santa Anita on Thursday. The process will begin with a 45-day comment period, during which members of the industry and the general public can submit opinions. (Are 45 days really necessary? ‘I’m fer it.’ ‘I’m agin’ it.’ Simple enough.) That will be followed by a second CHRB hearing (likely in June), additional 45-day comment periods (if they’re deemed warranted) and – assuming the CHRB grants its assent – a review by secretary of state’s legal eagles.

Exchange betting boosters, such as Betfair’s US subsidiary TVG, hope the process can be completed by July 18, when the Del Mar track in San Diego holds the opening meeting of its 75th racing season, but the Daily Racing Form reports most observers are pessimistic the deed can be accomplished within that time frame. California passed exchange wagering legislation in 2010, but the implementation has been delayed (in part) by racetracks, who remain concerned that their parimutuel revenues will take too great a hit by the introduction of such a scheme.

FYI, Bo Derek – the amply endowed eye candy in 1979 Dudley Moore movie 10 – is on the CHRB board of directors. If the board is split on whether or not to approve exchange wagering, we hope the tie-breaker involves one of the other directors racing Bo along a shoreline in a bathing suit. Then again, she’s almost 60 years old now, so perhaps not.

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