New York Gov. David Paterson signed legislation March 13 to block a scheduled across-the-board takeout increase in out-of-state wagers placed at tracks and OTB parlors in the state.
The 1% increase was due to go into effect March 15. It was part of a deal last year to convince New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg not to shut down the New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. by offering revenues – up to $5 million – from the higher takeout. In the end, the offer was never necessary since the state ended up taking over the NYCOTB last summer. But the takeout increase remained on the books.
“We think this is good news,’’ said state Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John Sabini, who credited the board’s new executive director, Ronald Ochrym, with pushing the issue to get it resolved before the takeout became effective this weekend. “Most of us realized this was not going to help matters in the industry at all to go forward with this.’’
The legislation passed the Senate earlier this week and the Assembly a week ago. Industry officials were concerned the higher takeout could set off a price war involving other states and create havoc with simulcasting contracts between New York entities and out-of-state tracks.
The current takeout on out-of-state races wagered in New York include 18% for regular bets, 21% for multiple bets, 26% for exotic bets and 27% for super-exotic bets.
Sabini said the higher takeout, had it gone through, could have pushed gamblers to either reduce betting or to take their business elsewhere, such as off-shore accounts.
“Gamblers know the marketplace,” he said. “People look for where they are going to make money or where they have the perception of making money and this was something that was not going to work for people; we have a governor who understood that.”