Monday, March 5, 2012

NYRA Updates: Handle, Field Size, Fan Council & More

Here are two comprehensive updates from HANA's New York State Representative, Vic, regarding both February developments, and yesterday's Fan Advisory Council Meetings.

Of note, we had arranged a short meeting with NYRA representatives beforehand, as the Fan council was more about fan issues rather than betting and betting customer issues. They were gracious enough to take time out to discuss some of your concerns as bettors, and we were pleased that a dialogue was opened. We'd like to publicly thank them for taking time out of their busy schedules.

Here we go:

The presentation was brief and was treated as an open discussion. Background on the members can be found at The goals of the council were stated clearly as (i) improving NY racing and (ii) improving the fan experience. As Michael Amo stated, they want to "take the fans voice and share it with the right people."

Some key things NYRA discussed for the near future:
• New website
• Installing Wi-Fi (almost) everywhere at Aqueduct
• Create a consistent look and feel throughout Aqueduct
• "I Love NY Horseracing" advertising campaign
• "Longshots" at Aqueduct, a restaurant/betting parlor targeting high-handle bettors
• "RaceQuest" both online and at tracks, designed to teach new fans about the sport

Charlie Hayward stated, "new fans are made at the track." One way to do that appears to be through "Racequest" (more detail can be found at

February Notes

  • New York Racing Association (NYRA) has only traced $500,000 of the $1.2 million it received from overcharging bettors on exotic wagers. NYRA states that it will never be able to track down all customers. It's not yet clear what will happen to the remaining $700,000 or the nearly $8 million from wagers made at other venues.
  • NYRA has announced two new safety policies in an attempt to provide sounder racing conditions. The first is a new house rule that states, “The director of racing or the chief examining veterinarian has the right to refuse the entry of any horse with which they have any nature of concern.” The second is an increase to the bottom claiming level from $7,500 to $12,500 by April 27.
  • Given the dissolution of New York City OTB, NYRA is seeking permission to allow self-service wagering terminals at 10 NYC bars/restaurants in the five boroughs in time for the 2012 Kentucky Derby. NYRA plans to expand this to 40 terminals within three years, which is expected to generate approximately $165 million in handle a year. Locations that install the machines would receive 1.6-1.7% of the handle they generate.
  • The newly created Racing Fan Advisory Council will hold its first public meeting Saturday, March 3, at Aqueduct from 10am to noon. The council was established by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board (NYSRWB) to provide input and advise the board on horseracing and wagering matters in NY.
  • NYRA plans to hire a new marketing director and boost that department's budget by 43% (to a total of $5 million) in an effort to create a new generation of fans.
  • The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, sparked by a $225,000 start-up grant from the Harriet E. Pfleger Foundation, has created a new program to develop second careers for horses racing at NYRA tracks. The program will provide rehabilitation and retraining for as many as 100 horses a year. Other commitments to fund the initiative include $185,000 from NYRA and New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, $50,000 from The Jockey Club, and more than $135,000 from fundraisers and private donations.
  • NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has introduced a bill that will forbid lawmakers from benefiting from the new commercial casino industry. Elected officials, government employees, and the politically connected would be barred from owning any stake in licensed gaming companies and from having more than a 10% stake in any business that sells goods or services to a gambling enterprise. The bill would also merge the state Lottery Division with NYSRWB to create a new state gaming commission.
January 2012 vs. 2011 – Meet Statistics:
  • On-track handle (Aqu): ▲8.1% ($16.1M)
  • Avg. daily on-track handle (Aqu): ▲2.7% ($0.8M)
  • On-track handle (total): ▲1.0% ($23.4M)
  • Avg. daily on-track handle (total): ▼4.0% ($1.2M)
  • Total handle: ▲6.6% ($117.8M)
  • Avg. daily handle: ▲1.2% ($5.9M)
  • Attendance: ▼2.7% (83.4k)
  • Avg. field size: ▲2.9% (7.77)
  • Avg. winner payout: ▲24.0% ($12.4)
NYSRWB Monthly Meeting:
  • NYSRWB approved an amendment to the minimum required betting interests in harness superfecta wagers, reducing the requirement to 7 (previously 8 with the allowance of 7 only in the instance of a late scratch).
  • NYSRWB approved an amendment to the equine drug rules for both thoroughbred and harness racing, increasing the authorization of Bute administration by IV injection to 48 hours (previously 24 hours).

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