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Attendance, Account Wagering Up at Aqueduct

Total all-sources handle was down due to closure of NYCOTB in December.

Attendance, on-track handle, and New York Racing Association Rewards account wagering posted substantial increases at the recently concluded 2011 Aqueduct Racetrack winter/spring race meeting, while total all-sources handle was down.

For the period spanning Jan. 1 through April 23 compared to last year’s corresponding time span, attendance was up 48%, increasing to 322,165 from 218,078; total on-track handle (including money bet on simulcast races) was up 74.6 %, increasing to $144 million from $83 million; NYRA Rewards telephone wagering was up 95%, increasing to $13 million from $6.7 million; and NYRA Rewards internet wagering was up 147%, increasing to $20 million from $8.2 million.

“We are extremely pleased with the numbers from the recently concluded Aqueduct meeting,” said NYRA president and CEO Charles Hayward in a statement. “I am very encouraged by the hard work that everyone at NYRA has done since the shutdown of New York City Off-Track Betting to encourage customers to attend our live races and wager on our product. It has been a total team effort and has demonstrated NYRA’s ability to react quickly and decisively to what could have been a very negative occurrence for the racing industry as a whole.

“I also want to thank the New York State Racing and Wagering Board chairman John Sabini for helping us gain expedient approvals for a number of customer service initiatives.”

The closure of NYCOTB was a contributing factor for all of the numbers, including a $63 million decrease in wagering on NYRA races from the downstate NYOTB’s. Despite that decline, total all-sources handle (including money bet on simulcast races) during the Aqueduct meeting was only down 4.2% total, $505 million this year compared to $527 million last year. Comparing the daily averages, total handle was down only 1.6%, $6.9 million on average this year compared to $7 million last year.

“Despite our total handle being down marginally, the fact we make approximately three times the revenue for an on-track wager as compared to wagers made at a NYCOTB parlor allows us to offset much of that lost handle revenue,” said Hayward.

Attendance and on-track handle also posted gains on Aqueduct’s biggest day of the meet, Wood Memorial Day April 9. Wood Day attendance was up 42%, on-track handle was up 48%, and total all-sources handle on Aqueduct’s races was up 5%.