Lawsuit Latest Play in NYRA/Nassau OTB Fight

Nassau Regional OTB has sued NYRA over claims it pirated NYRA's signal.

Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. has filed a $15-million lawsuit against the New York Racing Association in response to NYRA’s claim that Nassau Regional OTB had pirated its signal.

Nassau Regional OTB, headquartered on Long Island, N.Y., said NYRA races were accidentally streamed on its Web site, and in a June 11 release called NYRA’s piracy claim “outrageous.”

The complaint, filed June 11 in Nassau County State Supreme Court, seeks to require NYRA to resume its in-home simulcasts to Nassau County Cablevision subscribers, which it terminated on the eve of the June 6 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

“The drastic measures taken by NYRA and its president are unfortunate and shortsighted,” Nassau Regional OTB president Dino Amoroso said in a statement. “NYRA’s actions on the eve of one of horse racing’s biggest national events have cost and continue to cost the taxpayers of Nassau County and New York State precious revenue at a time when the county and state can least afford it. NYRA’s actions have hurt tens of thousands of loyal racing fans in Nassau County.”

Nassau Regional OTB said its Internet wagering platform is provided by Scientific Games Racing, whose vice president, David Haslett, acknowledged its error in disseminating NYRA’s video stream in an April 17, 2009, letter that was forwarded to NYRA president and chief executive officer Charles Hayward and New York Racing and Wagering Board chairman John Sabini.

NYRA issued a statement later in the afternoon of June 11.

“Nassau OTB, which lost the privilege of showing the NYRA signal in the homes of Nassau County residents because it illegally pirated the NYRA signal over the Internet and has continuously failed to fully acknowledge its wrongdoing, tried today to get a state Supreme Court judge to order NYRA to restore the signal into Nassau County homes. The judge has refused Nassau OTB’s request,” Hayward said.

“Now, rather than make simple amends to NYRA which would immediately restore the NYRA picture in the home of its customers, Nassau OTB is going to try and file a frivolous lawsuit against NYRA—which it will lose,” Hayward said. “Nassau OTB’s irresponsible actions are further vindication of NYRA’s decision to no longer trust Nassau OTB with its signal.

“The unfortunate consequence of Nassau OTB’s continued bad behavior is the deprivation of the NYRA signal to Nassau County residents in the home. Perhaps if enough Nassau County residents demand that Nassau OTB clean up its act, the signal can be restored prior to NYRA’s Saratoga meet.”

“It is unfortunate that Mr. Haywood [sic], in his press release announcing the signal termination, chose to characterize (Nassau Regional OTB) as a ‘competitor,’ and the inadvertent actions of a third party as ‘piracy,’" Amoroso said. "The reality is that (Nassau Regional OTB) pays well over $14 million a year to NYRA and the New York horsemen for NYRA’s signal.”

Nassau Regional OTB said it has paid $385 million to Nassau County since 1975.

“Over the years, (Nassau Regional OTB) has endeavored to foster a cooperative and collaborative relationship with NYRA by actively supporting its (New York) racing product in our handicapping contests, promotional activities, broadcast shows, and handicapper picks,” Amoroso said in his statement. “We actively support NYRA’s charitable causes like B.E.S.T. and Anna House, and have consistently and proactively promoted NYRA racing in New York State. The least NYRA can do is honor its contractual obligations.”