Lack of Deal Threatens NYRA Simulcasts

Most Mid-Atlantic tracks may not offer the Belmont signal when the meet begins.

The Mid-Atlantic Cooperative, which represents 16 racetracks and their affiliated off-track wagering outlets, has failed to reach an agreement with the New York Racing Association on signal rates, which puts simulcast of races from Belmont Park in jeopardy.

The Belmont meet begins April 30. If no agreement is reached, most tracks in the Mid-Atlantic region won’t offer Belmont racing. The Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in early June isn’t affected, officials said in an April 28 release issued by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates Meadowlands and Monmouth Park.

The release said the Mid-Atlantic Cooperative “could not accept NYRA’s unprecedented monetary demands for its Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga signals.” Counterproposals were rejected, the release said.

“Mid-Atlantic Cooperative remains committed to reaching an acceptable contract and minimizing the interruption of simulcasts,” said the group’s executive director, Martin Lieberman. “However, this is a necessary step to protect the long-term interests of our members. NYRA’s unreasonable price demands, if agreed to, will negatively impact our member racetracks’ ability to present live and simulcast racing in the region.”

“It is unfortunate that negotiations won’t result in a deal by the start of the Belmont Park meeting,” Hal Handel, NYRA executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in an April 29 statement. “Simulcast pricing is a changing part of the racing landscape. The discussions have been amicable, so we’re hopeful our outstanding economic issues can be resolved soon.”

Members of the Mid-Atlantic Cooperative are Atlantic City Race Course, Freehold Raceway, Meadowlands, and Monmouth Park in New Jersey; Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania; Charles Town Races & Slots in West Virginia; Delaware Park, Dover Downs, and Harrington Raceway in Delaware; Ocean Downs and Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland; Colonial Downs in Virginia; Suffolk Downs in Massachusetts; and Rockingham Park in New Hampshire.