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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In the Ballgame

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 percent
As 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.


Pull the Pocket said...

Hey Left,

That day reported by SA on their website was a Saturday to Friday comparison (it was immediately caught on chat boards by people, because this is not proper, and was "tweeted" in that universe).

Overall handle has stayed very soft at SA even with the four day week (down from last year), but I have not paid attention too closely. I read last Sat-Sat comparison was really bad (20%+), and Sun-Sun was better (off 8% only or something)

For NYRA - the thing I find positive about this is that the OTB and their surcharges worked against some churn. If a lot of those people can get into phone betting/computer betting, or even at the track, they will have more dollars as a group in their pockets. Over time, they can grow some wagering there. There is no substitute for losing the OTB and the habits of these players, but there is hope those who stay play more and stay longer.



alan said...

>>That day reported by SA on their website was a Saturday to Friday comparison.

But they were both holidays, so I think that makes it a valid comparison.

Anonymous said...

If Friday was a holiday, how come I had to work?

Anonymous said...

Anon - cuz your job sucks.

Anonymous said...

It does suck, but at least I get Columbus Day off.

Anonymous said...

SA.handle down 17.5% so far this year.

Figless said...

NYRA needs to do a better job of transitioning Channel 71 from their final race to the simulcast screen.

The final Big A race is usually run about 10 minutes before the eighth at GP in addition to the features at Tampa and east coast tracks and the early SA races.

They take WAY too long replaying the race, and posting the prices, again, before finally switching. The other day they did not change over for 17 minutes.

This has to be costing them money, at the busiest time of the gambling day you can not leave gamblers without a signal.

Once they finally do make the switch their screen design is much more user friendly than the old OTB shrunken quad split format.

ljk said...

Here's what I wonder. I live far from NYC and have never been to an OTB. But I understand there were some pretty nice teletheaters or parlors. What becomes of those? Were they owned by OTB and soon to be auctioned? I understand NYRA, due to some obscure 1990 law, is authorized to run NYC teletheaters in the absence of NYCOTB. Seems to me that's the way for NYRA to get close to 100% of the NYCOTB handle at on-track rates?

Figless said...

I was hoping NYRA would jump in and take over the Teletheater/Restaurants.

The restaurant I frequent has moved on, remodeling the OTB section into a catering hall.

The patrons mostly have migrated to NYRA Rewards but are bitching at the lack of SA and GP on TVG, which is shown in the restaurant along with Channel 71, and the delayed change over to those tracks on Ch 71 which is why I posted above.

Alan Mann said...

Figless -

That's I mentioned in the next post....they gotta get those tracks up on live streaming asap.

Is that right about the teletheaters??

Figless said...

They absolutely need to get the live streaming up and running but they also need to switch Channel 71 to the other tracks immediately upon Big A final race being declared official.

Show the prices, flip the switch, no need for the replay, both angles, the prices, again, and the Big A "flag" waving for a few minutes before the switch. This takes close to ten minutes.

Many of the folks watching Channel 71 do not have computer access, if you get the other tracks on the screen they will wager.

Minor bump in the road and easily correctable, hopefully someone comes to their senses.