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Youbet.com Hedges

Gambling infrastructure company Youbet.com Inc. said it slashed 34 jobs, or 29 percent of its workforce, in a restructuring designed to conserve cash so that it can develop and expand its core horseracing business.

The company, which also announced the departure of A.L. Frank, president and chief operating officer, said it intends to combine its online horseracing product with its sports-related product into a single Web site.

Youbet.com has been struggling and reported a loss of 20 cents a share for the third quarter. Its stock closed yesterday at $1.56, down from a 52-week high of $7.37.

On Nov. 13, the company launched the beta test version of its new Web-based horseracing product. The app gives consumers access to the Youbet Racing Network, which allows people to watch and, in most states, to wager on a selection of coast-to-coast thoroughbred and harness horse races via its closed-loop network. Formal launch of the Web product is expected in the first quarter of 2001.

Regarding the downsizing, CEO Robert Fell said: "In recognition of the status of the current financial markets, we need to conserve cash and optimize our resources to proceed effectively in our core operating business."

He said the company expects to combine its horseracing and sports-related product content and technologies into one comprehensive Web site. "We plan to offer Youbet subscribers not only horseracing information, but also a host of other sports data," he said.

Youbet.com does not actually accept or place any bets. Wagers are accepted and placed only by a state licensed wagering entity, currently the Ladbroke, PA, facility. Youbet.com says its role in the wagering process is limited "to transmitting information-related wagers to the licensed wagering facility."

In a separate development, the company said that its board member Alan W. Landsburg was appointed to the California Horse Racing Board and as a result was required to resign from all racing-related boards of directors including Youbet.com.



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