Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

19 July 2009

Task Force on the Future of New York Off-Track Betting

Only a gaggle of lawyers could craft the complicated situation that New York horseracing is in. The bad news as it looks like it is only going to get worse. As the various OTBs lose revenue to out of state ADW's defensive legislation will be enacted to protect an OTB on its deathbed. A myriad of laws/committees/boards/task forces are designed to protect harness racing, OTBs and locals tracks. Instead of protecting and promoting growth the entire industry is mired in the muck of too much government. The OTB may poach the NYRA customer but OTB has to pay NYRA money for dark day simulcasts. NYRA may offer out of town simulcast tracks but NYRA pays much more for the signal as OTB gets a volume discount on the signal. The conflicts are endless. As the OTB parlor increasingly becomes an anachronism, no amount of laws can stop the death spiral of OTB revenue.

Rockland County – Have seven branch locations, Nanuet, Pearl River, Nyack,
Haverstraw and three locations in Suffern. Have received the following revenues
from OTB:
2004: $2,758,388
2005 $2,800,651
2006 $2,587,447
2007 $1,941,924
2008 $1,587,195

It is sometimes scary when lawyers get involved in anything beyond a criminal case. When I think about the head lawyer in Washington getting involved in healthcare it makes me want to reach for a double dose of vitamins and fiber supplements. The dysfunction of New York state wagering is enough to make anyone sick to their stomach. In an ideal world the various interests conflicting with each other would bring about an equilibrium, but the lawyers will not let it happen. Instead we suffer under multiple laws that try to account the disparity between strong and weak. When one of the interests start to weaken a task force of beaurocrats with scant bottom up knowledge are assembled to search for the reasons why the filthy, stinky OTB that charges a 6% tax on winnings is losing handle to an internet ADW.

Instead of improving the lot for the masses these endless laws allow the sickness of the weak to impair the strong. Why can't NYRA offer harness racing to their customers? An exacta is an exacta. The only growth market for racing has been the internet ADW's. Now the OTB's are pushing the state to shut down out of state ADW operations in New York. While this may help the OTB it will hurt racing by reducing handle and making the game unappealing for the vital yet rare, young internet savvy racefans within the state .

Niagara Country's Response to Competition;
* Either prohibit out-of-state ADWs from accepting wagers from New York residents or require them to be licensed and regulated like theOTBs including the requirements of statutory distributions that are equal or greater than the ones the NY OTBs are required to make.

Another example of the OTB sway over Albany is on internet video. Under pressure from OTB Albany enacted a law that prohibited video/audio of NYRA races to be broadcast over the internet within the state of New York. NYRA can not even stream their product. NYRA puts up the purse, takes the entries and runs the show, why can't they show it? OTB wants to pressure the race fans of New York to go the OTB parlors if they want to watch what they bet on. While this idea that people will be queuing up outside the branches because they can not view Belmont on youbet.com is absurd it also does nothing for OTB. Limited video access hurts the overall well being of the game. There are plenty of outlets to watch NYRA racing within New York other than a OTB parlor, there is TVG or HRTV which is widely available via cable or dish network. There are rumors that crafty racefans have figured out how to circumvent the OTB blockage of the NYRA signal over the internet as well. It is a very tangled web to navigate if you want to watch/wager on racing in New York.

When Nassau OTB was caught pirating the Aqueduct signal over the internet earlier this year, NYRA took action and cut Nassau OTB off from offering the NYRA feed OTB's cable TV customers on Long Island. Why should Nassau OTB be allowed to do what NYRA can not? The fans, the horseman and the game suffer under this mess. It is amazing that the game has persevered under the heavy weight of the legislative parasite. It is the most unlikely of longshots but if a de-regulator with strong bottom up knowledge could neutralize the morass of top down knowledge bureaucrats we could realize the potential of racing in New York.

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