Let's look at some of the hard dollar numbers coming out of Aqueduct rather than percentage increases and decreases which don't tell the whole story. After all, a 50% drop in intrastate wagering which used to total close to $2 million day means a lot more than a 42% increase in internet wagering which was averaging around $75,000 in a year ago.
However, another percentage strongly favors NYRA...that is, the percentage of its take of on-track handle as compared to what it was getting through OTB. Intrastate off-track wagering is indeed down roughly $1 million a day. Let's say, for argument and simplicity sake, that virtually all of that is due to NYC OTB's closure. Now, recall Charlie Hayward's assertion that NYRA needed to capture about 35% of OTB handle in order to break even. In December, after NYC OTB's closure, the increase in handle from telephone, internet, on-track, mobile, and Belmont Cafe wagering over a year earlier averaged around $235,000 a day. Let's also make an assumption that virtually all of that increase is business captured from OTB. I don't think that's at all outlandish; can't imagine that Aqueduct attracts much in the way of new business this time of year.
That $235,000 falls short of the $350,000 (35% of $1 million) that NYRA would need to break even (under this highly simplified scenario). However, in the early part of January (only through the 6th, and not counting the 4th, when NYRA says it experienced technical difficulties), that increase-in-business number is almost $440,000, as the intrastate loss remains around the $1 million mark. Of course it's far too early to draw any firm conclusions. But it seems to me as if NYRA is squarely in the ballgame here, with a chance to make further gains with Channel 71 back, live streaming on its website, Saratoga this summer, and what I imagine will eventually be a grand simulcast facility somewhere in ResortsWorld at the Big A.
- We read a lot about the handle decline in the opening days of Santa Anita; not much lately, so I'm not sure if that trend has continued. Here's one note though that I found on the track's website which was not widely reported:
Betting was up significantly through nine races at Santa Anita on Jan. 1, 2011, compared to Jan. 1, 2010, when a total of 10 races were run. On-track handle on the nine-race card Saturday showed an increase of 7.53 percent; satellite wagering 12.55 percent; out-of-state handle 8.62 percent; and all sources handle was up 9.20 percentAs we know, the racing press tends to report what they want you to hear; can you imagine the headlines if a new synthetic track had one breakdown and six other horses pulled up and vanned off in the first week of its meet? Seems to me that New Year's Day might be a better apples-to-apples comparison day than others which were weekends vs weekdays or adversely affected by weather on both coasts.
Nonetheless, that isolated example is no more proof that the boycott is not working than the prior down days proved that it is, at least in my opinion. That was Davidowitz's point about putting off any organized action until later in the year, when trends in handle have been established, and its effect could be better specified. California is a state with a 12.4% unemployment rate, and a bleak short-term financial future in the face of a deficit of some $27 billion. Those are numbers which could certainly contribute to a decline in local business on their own.
Comparing the year-to-year numbers won't get any easier; as my friends at HANA pointed out last week, racing moved to a four-day a week schedule through the end of February; as opposed to five days last week. That will make comparisons difficult on a day-to-day basis.
On the other coast, unlike at Santa Anita, the results at Gulfstream thus far are not at all ambiguous - up over 17% thus far.