New York OTBs Push for Night Thoroughbred Simulcasts

Off-track betting corporations in New York, still upset about being cut out of last fall's major gambling expansion in the state, are making an all-out push for new revenue.

The OTB corporations say the state, which approved video lottery terminals for racetracks, must at least permit them to simulcast Thoroughbred racing at night. The betting entities for at least four years have unsuccessfully lobbied to overturn a ban on nighttime Thoroughbred simulcasting, a measure in place to protect live Standardbred racing from competition.

"We've really been very, very patient," said one OTB official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "We think this is good for everyone. It's not to be greedy, but to make life better for everybody."

The OTB corporations insist the measure will make money for themselves, local governments, and racetracks. They believe the change would provide them with an additional $30 million each year. As a starting point in the talks, one plan calls for the betting parlors to pay 3% to racetracks for each wager made on Thoroughbred races at night.

The issue follows approval last October of a sweeping gambling bill that permits VLTs at most racetracks, six new Indian casinos, and a lottery expansion. The bill is on the table now because a host of critical provisions in state law expire June 30, including ones that govern simulcasting and telephone account wagering.

Meanwhile, there are other industry wish-lists as June 30 approaches and the legislature looks to wrap up its 2002 session. Racetracks are still seeking to extend the hours VLTs operate, and the New York Racing Association wants to reduce or eliminate the minimum amount necessary to maintain a telephone betting account.

NYRA has long said its mandatory minimum balance of $450 discourages some bettors from signing on to its telephone system.