The New York Racing Association got a bump—for one month, anyway—in attendance and on-track handle to make up for some of the losses of the closing of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corp.
Releasing its own set of numbers after the state Racing and Wagering Board this week made public NYRA’s financial performance for a slightly different timetable, NYRA said its track attendance rose by more than 20,000 people to 86,000 patrons during this past month compared to the same period a year ago.
The racing entity said it saw big jumps in its phone and internet wagering platforms, and had 6,243 bettors come through the doors of its new off-track facility called Belmont Café, which was recently opened to try to lure former NYCOTB patrons.
Dan Silver, a NYRA spokesman, said officials are encouraged by the attendance and on-track handle increases. But, he added, “It is too early to draw any definitive conclusions and we still have a long ways to go.”
Silver noted that NYCOTB in January 2010 accounted for $15.8 million of handle on NYRA’s races. As a result of NYCOTB’s closure in December, total handle on NYRA races dropped 18.55% and total handle, which included wagering on NYRA races and its simulcasting business, dropped 11.5%.
NYRA keeps more money on bets made on-track or through its phone and internet platforms than it does on wagers made from other OTB operations across the state.
NYRA offered fewer races in January, 171, than the same period a year ago when 183 races were conducted. But track attendance was up 31%, officials said.
Its account wagering on phone bets, for instance, rose 99% from $1.6 million to $3.1 million from January 2010 to this January, while its internet wagering increased from $1.9 million to $4.4 million, or a nearly 125% increase.
It reported its total on-track handle as $33.5 million last month, up from $21.4 million a year ago.
But the good news ends when the off-track handle numbers are examined. Its total off-track handle dropped 23 percent, from $124.5 million to $95.6 million last month. The daily off-track handle average was off 15%.
The total handle on NYRA races only was $110.6 million, down from $135.7 million from a year ago.
In all, its total handle—NYRA races and simulcasting—stood at $129.1 million for the month, down from $145.9 million a year ago. The daily average total handle was off 2.2%, NYRA said.
NYRA and the state pushed through a number of changes to try to keep NYCOTB patrons from turning to other options. Live video streaming of races is now permitted and NYRA has taken over the New York City television channel once run by NYCOTB. NYRA has even turned to offering free bus rides from shuttered NYCOTB parlors.