- Rebates are coming to the New York Racing Association, but the association will be depending partially on the goodwill of big bettors in order to compete with the offshore shops. The program, finally approved on a one year trial basis by the state, is set to launch on May 3, opening day at Belmont. Bettors that enroll in the program (or who are current customers of NYRA’s account-wagering program) will receive one point for every dollar bet on NY races, and a half point for wagers on simulcast tracks. Rebates will start at one percent for bettors accumulating 2,000 points per month, and range up to a maximum of seven percent, on exotics such as the pick six, for players with 500,000 points or more. However, the maximum rebate for win bets will be three percent.
It’s pretty safe to say that I will not be qualifying for the maximum rate. Or the minimum for that matter. As a matter of fact, I’ll be donating more of my occasional winnings in the form of a one percent increase in the takeout on win/place/show wagers that the state insisted on as compensation for the givebacks.
The problem is that rebate shops, who return only a few percentage points of handle in the form of simulcast fees, retain their competitive advantage and are able to offer rebates as high as 15% on exotics. So NYRA VP Bill Nader is asking bettors to show a little civic duty, so to speak.
Nader said that NYRA hoped to attract bettors who are concerned about the low return to the racing industry generated by many rebate shops…Sounds good in theory, but for high-volume bettors who churn piles of money in search of the most subtle of edges, just a couple of percentage points can make the difference between winning and losing; so it may be wishful thinking. The bottom line is still king, after all. Still, NYRA hopes to regain at least a portion of the handle they lost when they cut off rebate shops last summer.
"It's the best payback to the industry for all stakeholders, especially horsemen…They'll know that they will be betting through a platform that gives the most back to the racing industry, and that should be worth something." [Daily Racing Form]
Also on May 3, NYRA will expand its simulcast menu, woo hoo! New York has always lagged far behind neighboring New Jersey as far as the volume of simulcast tracks, so this will give me a chance to get even more distracted and scatterbrained without having to make the trip across the river.
- Polytrack is coming to Woodbine. The project will cost some $10 million, which includes revamping the seven-furlong Standardbred oval here to accommodate Thoroughbred racing during the transitional period. [DRF] The track says that the transition will pay for itself in five to 10 years in reduced maintenance costs. [Toronto Globe and Mail]
- Harness horsemen at Yonkers Raceway are fed up with waiting for the track to reopen and are going to court. Old Hilltop has been closed since June for construction of their slots parlor, but the horsemen claim that a contractual agreement called for it to reopen after four months. It’s not like the track is unusable; it remains open for training. But management obviously has little incentive to open their doors to what, without the slots in action, is a money-losing venture. The horsemen seek, according to a press release, an immediate reopening of the track, monetary damages for unpaid purses, and breach of contract. [US Trotting Association]