SARATOGA SPRINGS — The fate of New York’s troubled off-track betting system is expected to take center stage at a Monday hearing of the state Senate’s Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering.
Racing stakeholders, by invitation only, will share their views on a variety of topics confronting the industry from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Hearing Room A of the Legislative Office Building in Albany, the state capital.
Committee Chairman John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, says implementing a more efficient off-track betting system is the state’s most pressing need.
New York City OTB, which had handled $750 million in wagers annually, closed Dec. 8 after a year in bankruptcy.
Bonacic says at least four remaining of the five regional off-track betting entities should be consolidated, either fully or partially, or that an outside firm should be brought in to develop the off-track betting product on a statewide or near-statewide platform, such as a television channel or account deposit wagering system.
“I think you will see some consolidation this year,” he said. “Western OTB is different since they own their own track.”
The hearing is expected to cover many issues.
“Addressing out-of-state ADWs has been done in other states,” Bonacic said. “I want to make sure ADW companies which operate out of New York state and take bets from New Yorkers on New York racing contribute to our racing community.”
Off-track betting officials say they’re at a competitive disadvantage to out-of-state ADWs that don’t have to pay any fees to the state, but can offer rewards and incentives to attract bettors. Off-track betting officials have called on state lawmakers and regulators to change this, but so far nothing has been done.
Bonacic said he wants to get legislation passed to address this issue. In other matters, Bonacic said he’s going to ask the New York State Racing and Wagering Board to embark on a fan education and development project. “I also believe the Interstate Racing Compact, with a fan development component in it, should be passed,” he said.
Among the senator’s other chief goals, he said he also wants to bring the Breeders’ Cup back to New York next year.
People expected to testify at Monday’s hearing are Michael Amo, chairman of Saratoga Springs-based ThoroFan, a racing fan association; Michael Speller, president of Resorts World New York; Charles Hayward, president and CEO of NYRA; representatives of several OTB corporations, including Donald Groth of Catskill OTB, John Signor of Capital OTB and Arthur Walsh of Nassau OTB; Joseph D’Amato of Empire Resorts; Joseph Faraldo of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York; Richard Violette Jr. of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association Inc.; and Jeffrey Cannizzo of New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc.
“We have a cross section of fans, breeders, horsemen and track representatives who I am hoping can specifically address the points we are seeking input on, as well as offer any other ideas to better the racing and gaming industry as a whole in New York,” Bonacic said.