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Del Mar Fairgrounds could become place to bet on pro, college sports

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Posted at 11:02 AM, Sep 14, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The Del Mar Fairgrounds could become a place to bet on professional and college sports, should California voters approve a measure allowing sports gambling in November 2022.

On Tuesday, the Del Mar Fairgrounds board voted 7-0 to adjust its operating agreement with the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, allowing it to run a "first-class" sports book at its off-track wagering facility, Surfside Race Place, as soon as 2023.

The proposal hinges on the passage of a statewise proposition that would allow licensed racetracks and Native American casinos to offer on-site wagering on professional, college, and amateur sports. Gambling on high school sports and games involving colleges in California would still be illegal. The thoroughbred club's proposal would also need to be approved by the State Race Track Leasing Commission.

"Sports wagering will generate significant additional net revenues for DMTC which, along with the additional food and beverage revenues generated, will flow to the District and Race Track Authority," Thoroughbred Club Chief Executive Josh Rubinstein wrote in a letter to the fair board chair on Wednesday, Sept. 8. "This new revenue stream will greatly assist the Fairgrounds as it continues to recover from the economic effects of the pandemic and also will help provide for its long-term financial stability."

On-site sports wagering is one way to combat the decline of horse racing nationwide. In California, the handle has dropped 18.5 percent over the last 10 years to roughly $2.8 billion in the fiscal year 2019-20, according to the California Horse Racing Board.

The Thoroughbred Club says the state-owned fairgrounds would receive an additional $2 million direct payment, plus food and beverage revenues. The sports book would be held in Saddle Club of Surfside Race Place.

The state would set the minimum gambling age to 21. Under the measure, winnings at horse-racing tracks would be taxed at 10 percent, with a portion of the money going to enforcement and problem-gambling programs.