NYSRWB Takes Action in Wake of OTB Shutdown

NYSRWB Takes Action in Wake of OTB Shutdown
Photo: New York State Racing and Wagering Board
New York State Racing and Wagering Board chairman John Sabini

Desperate to keep New York City Off-Track Betting dollars in-state, the state Racing and Wagering Board on Dec. 8 approved new emergency rules to make it easier and quicker for NYCOTB bettors to sign up with internet and phone wagering platforms at the state’s other OTB corporations.

The quick action by the state regulatory body cameson the heels of NYCOTB shutting down operations following inaction by the State Senate Dec. 7.

The new process will permit bettors to get registered to gamble on the other OTB sites almost immediately--a process that can now last several days.

“The goal being to make sure the handle at least stays in New York and places of integrity that we license and that contribute back to the industry rather than have people run off-shore or to the corner barber shop,” racing board chairman John Sabini said of the quick action on the rules, which normally can take up to nine months to go through.

Driving the NYCOTB bettors to other OTBs, though, could lower the value of the NYCOTB ADW wagering platform if it were to come back to life. “Right now, the racing board’s priority is to keep all the entities that we license as whole as possible. I can’t worry about the value of one entity’s ADW right now,” Sabini said.

The racing board chairman added that the NYCOTB closure should be a wake-up call to the industry to stop relying on “a phony Soviet-style”system that has seen the state push through protectionist policies for tracks.

“The tracks have to earn their share of the entertainment dollar just like any other entertainment,’’ he said.

Later on Dec. 8, the racing board approved applications from four entities, the New York Racing Association, Nassau and Catskill Regional OTBs, and Yonkers Raceway, to begin processing the quicker ADW application procedure with former NYCOTB bettors.

The board’s other emergency rulemaking act okayed a plan by NYRA to create a new NYRA Rewards promotion, which offers double incentive points for new NYRA Rewards accounts. With the state’s pari-mutuel industry spinning from the NYCOTB closure, the board also is letting Saratoga Gaming and Raceway start using credit and debit cards from bettors looking to deposit and take money from their accounts.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans insisted again Dec. 8 that talks are ongoing to try to get a settlement of the dispute to re-open the OTB.

But Larry Schwartz, the OTB chairman and chief of staff to Gov. David Paterson, told a New York radio station that there are no such talks taking place. “I believe the future is bleak if not finished,’’ Schwartz said of NYCOTB.

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