Aqueduct benefits from NYC OTB closures
Bill to ban out-of-state call centers advances in the Legislature
May 06, 2011NYRA's season at Aqueduct raceway, which ended April 23, showed an increase in everything but the amount of money wagered.
The New York Racing Association saw an increase in attendance and on-track handle, which includes phone and internet wagers through advance deposit wagering, despite seeing a slight decrease in the amount of money circulated. The decrease comes from less betting from the New York City area following the closure of the New York City Off-Track Betting parlors.
"The main things that were up were on-track handle and attendance," said NYRA spokesman Dan Silver.
NYRA reports that attendance at the Aqueduct raceway rose 47.7 percent compared to last year, resulting in 104,087 more people visiting the track this past season.
NYRA's on-track handle also rose by a total of 74.6 percent if simulcast races, or races streamed online from other tracks, are taken into account — meaning NYRA handled $61,224,497 more from on-track bets than last year.
However, total handle decreased 4.2 percent, or by $2.22 million from last year. Silver said this decrease is not unexpected due to a decrease in the amount of wagering throughout the entire racing industry. He also said NYRA successfully dealt with the loss of handle from the closed OTB parlors in New York City.
Silver said NYRA was able to offset the loss of OTB revenue because NYRA takes a larger cut from bets that qualify as on-track. NYRA took 3 percent of a wager made at a New York City OTB betting parlor, but they take closer to 10 percent on any bet placed on-track.
"For that reason we didn't have to recapture all of the lost dollars from New York City OTB," Silver said. "We really only needed to capture about 40 percent of those dollars [to make] a break even point."
During the Aqueduct meet, NYRA's Internet handle increased by 147.3 percent, or $12.12 million. NYRA also saw a phone handle of $13.15 million and, as The Legislative Gazette reported last week, its call volume has increased by almost 400 percent.
"When New York City Off-Track Betting shut down we launched a number of promotions to try and get their customers who were maybe betting through their phone system and their Internet system to come to our phone and Internet system," said Silver. "So that's where a lot of that increase came from."
A bill aimed at keeping call centers that deal with racing inside New York state's boundaries cleared its first hearing in the Senate Finance Committee last week.
The bill (S.4876/A.7392) sponsored by Sen. Andrew Lanza, R-Staten Island and Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee Chairman J. Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, would prevent any group licensed by the state to collect pari-mutuel wagers on racing through call centers based outside of the state.
Lanza's bill was moved out of committee by Sen. Kevin Parker, D-Brooklyn, the move was seconded by Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope. On May 3 Pretlow introduced the legislation in the Assembly, and by last Wednesday, the bill had advanced to a third reading in the Senate
The bill was introduced the day before Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to NYRA CEO Charles Hayward asking him to reconsider the move of NYRA's pari-mutuel call center to a facility in Oregon.
Hayward responded that the move was legal and no New York jobs would be lost, but he would have "further discussions with the Empire State Development Corp."
"The decision to utilize additional telephone outsourcing services was made pursuant to law and approved by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board after several weeks of discussions with the board and subsequent to prior decisions by the board to approve the outsourcing of telephone wagering operations by both Yonkers Raceway and Saratoga Harness," said Hayward.