Video-Streaming Plan Considered by NY Groups

Racetracks and OTB corporations in New York are circulating a draft agreement to permit live video streaming of races over the Internet—a move supporters said could help pick up some of the business lost with the closing of New York City Off-Track Betting Corp.

But negotiators strongly cautioned that no deal has been made for the video-streaming plan, which the industry also believes needs approval from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. Several people with knowledge of the talks said there is optimism for a deal, but New York’s racing and OTB communities have a long history of mistrust and battling against each other.

The draft document, a copy of which was obtained by The Blood-Horse, states that every entity involved must unanimously agree to the document or it does not go into effect. The document has signature lines for each of the state’s OTB corporations, including the shut-down NYCOTB, as well every harness track in the state and the New York Racing Association.

Shutting NYCOTB removed an entity that handled about $750 million in bets a year; about $140 million came through its ADW operations. While tracks and OTB corporations can offer Internet wagering in New York, they can’t stream live video because of a legal interpretation by the racing and wagering board. Tracks believe the ruling drives bettors to out-of-state bookmakers, though they have not legally challenged the board’s decision.

At an Assembly Racing Committee hearing the week of Dec. 13, several industry stakeholders said the video-streaming dispute needs to be swiftly resolved to keep NYCOTB bettors from migrating to ADW operations beyond New York.

The proposed document said the NYCOTB closure caused “unanticipated negative impact” across the industry and that it is “in the best interest of each licensed pari-mutuel operator, both individually and collectively, to ensure that each such licensed pari-mutuel operator has the ability and authorization to offer live video streaming” of licensed races.

The draft document calls for any agreement to be in effect for one year. The document will have no legal effect “unless and until each entity” listed on the signature lines have agreed to its terms.

For the racing industry in New York, getting all sides to agree swiftly on any one matter is a heavy lift. But the NYCOTB closing has brought together warring parties to get discussions going on a number of ideas, from video streaming to possibly exploring the idea of consolidating into one all half-dozen New York OTB corporations.

The video streaming idea was a subject at an industry stakeholders conference held behind closed doors earlier by racing and wagering board chairman John Sabini.

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