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New York to Add 'Uncoupled' Wagering Rule

The new rule will be in place for the start of the Saratoga meet.

New York’s new uncoupled wagering rule will be in place before the start of the upcoming Saratoga racing meet, the state’s top industry regulator said June 25, and should be a boost for track handle.

“We think it gives more betting opportunities and hopefully will increase handle and it won’t be at the expense of integrity as far as we’re concerned,’’ said John Sabini, chairman of the state Racing and Wagering Board.
The regulatory panel earlier this week approved the uncoupling rule, which has been sought by the New York Racing Association for several years. New York now requires that if a trainer has two horses in a race they must be “coupled’’ for the purposes of wagering; the rule, which NYRA is looking to start when it opens racing in Saratoga on July 23, will permit separate wagering on the horses.
“Trainers in a jurisdiction like ours are not going to collude. There’s really no record of collusion on races like this,’’ Sabini said. “The quality of racing, particularly NYRA, is good enough that we’re confident people will keep it on the up and up, and obviously our stewards are always on duty to make sure that’s the case.
Expectations of higher handle as a result of the rule change stretch from $1 million to as much as NYRA’s $7 million estimate.
“The bottom line is in a challenging economy to get more betting interest. The gamblers like it, NYRA likes it and we think it’s good for everybody,” Sabini said.
In other industry matters, the Senate in New York on June 25 approved legislation to permit the state to participate in an interstate compact to better coordinate racing rules between the states.
“Without the Compact, each member state separately adopts racing rules and programs, yet participants who race in several states need uniformity and a lone state, for fear of losing handle, cannot always act … alone,” said a Senate memo supporting the bill.
“The compact provides a mechanism for states to work together. The Compact permits member states to create uniform practices, programs, and rules and to act cooperatively. By joining the Compact, New York can promote New York State racing by simplifying racing and enhancing its integrity to attract more horses, fans, core bettors, and wagering,” the Senate memo states.
But the measure is stalled in the Assembly, and the 2010 legislative session is expected to end next week.
Lawmakers, desperate for new revenues to help close a state deficit, are looking at a plan to relax current rules at racetrack casinos. One plan would permit the facilities to stay open more hours in a day, and another would allow electronic table games to be offered.