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Monday, June 18, 2007

NYRA Rewards and Other Ramblings

- I opened up my NYRA Rewards account and now have internet wagering for the first time ever. This could be a problem I think. My OTB phone account, in which I'm down to a balance of 65 cents, has served me well. It also has some problems - a balky automated system that takes forever to repeat back the bets - I've agonized over that many times as the horses are loading into the gate - occasional trouble getting through during busy periods, and they don't take every track. On more than one occasion I've devoted a chunk of time and effort into a race only to discover that the track is not on the menu. In other words, sometimes I got shut out, and over the long run, that's a good thing.

But this NYRA platform seems to take every track (though apparently, no harness) - right now, at 7:30 PM in the east, I could bet on Colonial Downs, Yavapai, the ill-fated Great Lakes Downs, Indiana Downs, and something called the PM Mixed Meet, perhaps some kind of international political contest between some Prime Ministers. Though I haven't made a bet yet, it seems ridiculously easy, and if that last click to Submit Wager is as quick as all the others, I don't think I'm going to get shut out much more. And that could be a bad thing. Hmmm, I'm tempted to take a look at the last three from Colonial Downs right now... OK, I don't like the 7th, so I'll forge on here for now.

But there's no video, so I'm still at the mercy of TVG and Churchill Downs/Magna. NYRA's is the only advance deposit wagering platform that offers both, as reported by Gregory A. Hall in the Louisville Courier-Journal last week. Churchill and Magna were trying to gain the exclusive rights for NYRA itself through its participation in Empire Racing's bid for the New York franchise. Though Empire last week issued a call to keep the Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) program at New York State’s race tracks in the hands of the New York thoroughbred industry, it was willing to give control of that industry's simulcast signal, arguably the lifeblood of any racetrack in this era, away to Churchill and Magna. And I wonder if the apparent failure of Empire's bid had any effect on Churchill's purchase of those ADW's last week, in terms of either timing or price?

Sometimes it takes me a while to muddle through all the details and figure things out for myself, but this whole franchise thing is coming into focus. I recall that a Spitzer spokesperson recently said that MGM's pulling out of the Aqueduct racino "changed the landscape." If the state had ever reached an agreement with MGM, or NYRA, or whoever the hell they were even negotiating with, the racino would have started to go up immediately. Whoever got the franchise would have been stuck with them. So, with MGM, it didn't really matter to Spitzer when a new operator was chosen. But when MGM pulled out, the racino, which is budgeted to start producing revenue by next spring, was pulled with it. So now, Spitzer wants to just get this done now, forget about fighting over the land. Yeah, the hell with it, just give the racing to NYRA, who cares about that anyway?

And though I would imagine that Spitzer, who is quite conscious about his image, really would rather not award the gaming to Richard Fields' Excelsior, he probably sees it as the most expedient solution, as well as one he can explain away. After all, Excelsior has the most gaming experience of the three. Empire does have Delaware North, but what, we're going to put the VLT program in the hands of a dog track operator? Besides, Spitzer has the cover of the Ad Hoc Committee recommendation to rationalize the selection. Sheldon Silver called for a rebidding of the VLT's, not a bad idea, and something that Spitzer might actually prefer; but I don't think it will go anywhere if it delays the process any further.

By the way, has anyone ever seen a picture of Richard Fields? This guy must have a dozen websites about himself. There's richardfields.org, richard-fields.org, richardtfields.com, richardfields.net, richardfields.us, richardtfields.biz, richardfields.biz (without the 't'), richard-fields.biz, richard-fields.info, richardfields.info. They all link to news stories about him, but none have his picture. A couple of the sites have a picture of a guy - like this one - but I saw the same picture in a magazine ad for something entirely different. It must a stock photo that you get if you order 'rich looking middle age white guy giving a thumbs up.'

OK, enough of this; time to check out that internet wagering...

3 Comments:

Jim L said...

Alan,

They didn't make much of it on the NYRA recap show on Fox, and I haven't seen much written in the blogosphere about Gimme Credit's win over the weekend. Isn't that one a NY bred who won in an open company stake, albeit an overnight one.....

Brett said...

Gorgeous George was not back at Ascot this morning

alan said...

He was back, but I guess he wasn't so gorgeous.