Lower Takeout Among NY Council's Suggestions

The Racing Fan Advisory Council released its report to regulators Dec. 31.

The New York Racing Fan Advisory Council has released its formal recommendations for ways to improve horse racing in the state, and at the top of the list is lower pari-mutuel takeout.

The recommendations to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board were released Dec. 31 in a report that included minutes of meetings held by the Racing Fan Advisory Council around the state.

Pari-mutuel takeout rates can be changed with NYSRWB approval, the advisory council noted. It said, however, that even though "non-New York Racing Association tracks now receive the bulk of their revenue from video lottery terminals, and VLTs at the non-NYRA tracks now supply 71% of the purses at the tracks, there have been few serious attempts made to help out the bettors.

"It is time for all the New York racetracks to undertake efforts to reduce the takeout on their customers," the report said.

The advisory council also said the NYSRWB should foster and facilitate a collaborative partnership among New York tracks, similar to how it coordinated an agreement on video streaming. The conglomerate would include NYRA tracks, Finger Lakes, and the seven harness tracks in New York to give the tracks more bargaining power for simulcast races and other projects.

The council, whose members are Patrick Connors (chair), Michael Amo, Allan Carter, and M. Kelly Young, also recommended:

–The NYRA Reorganization Board should form a "Fan Outreach Committee" to consider and address patron concerns. "The council would welcome the opportunity to discuss its findings and foster a dialogue at a future NYRA Reorganization board of directors meeting," the report states.

–The Belmont Stakes (gr. I) day experience should be enhanced to capitalize on what could be the only visit fans make to the racetrack each year. The council said Belmont day offers the perfect opportunity to impress people and get them to return.

"The experience should be improved by lowering the prices of food, beverages, and souvenirs, as opposed to raising prices for such items," the report states. "NYRA should also consider allowing fans to bring food and beverages to the track on Belmont Stakes day. If safety reasons prevent this, prices at the track for these items should be reasonable to ensure fans have a positive experience."
--WiFi should be available throughout racing facilities.
–Rewards programs should be revisited and be fashioned like casino rewards programs. The advisory council said though NYRA has a rewards program, "it should be re-examined to ascertain how many fans it actually rewards."