04/28/2011 2:52PM

Aqueduct handle jumps ontrack, drops overall


While the New York Racing Association made tremendous gains in ontrack business during the Aqueduct winter/spring meets of 2011, overall business on the track’s races was down double-digits when compared with the same time period in 2010.

The daily average total handle on Aqueduct’s races from Jan. 1-April 23 – which covered 73 racing days – was $5,741,639, a decline of 11.4 percent from 2010 when daily average total handle was $6,483,226 over 75 racing programs. Gross total handle was down 13.8 percent from $486,241,985 in 2010 to $419,139,663 in 2011. The bulk of the lost revenue was accountable to the closure of New York City Off-Track Betting Corp., which resulted in a $63 million decrease in wagering on Aqueduct’s races from downstate OTBs.

When wagering on simulcast races is factored in, however, NYRA’s total all-sources handle was $504,861,997, down just 4.2 percent from last year’s total of $527,025,292. Daily average all-sources handle was down only 1.6 percent to $6,915,918 from $7,027,004 in 2010.

Ontrack business increased significantly. Total attendance was up 47.7 percent from 218,078 in 2010 to 322,165 in 2011. Ontrack handle on Aqueduct’s races was up 38.4 percent to $58,741,413 from $42,455,943. Daily average on-track handle was $804,677 compared with $566,079 in 2010, an increase of 42.1 percent. Including simulcast races, ontrack handle was up 73.6 percent to $144,463,747 from $83,239,250.

NYRA was able to increase its ontrack business by bussing former OTB bettors in New York City’s five boroughs to Aqueduct. Further, NYRA opened up Belmont Park for simulcasting, which resulted in a total handle of $16.4 million. NYRA kept Aqueduct and Belmont Park open seven days a week, which helped boost simulcast business.

Despite the $22 million loss in overall handle, NYRA lost only approximately $450,000, or 2 percent, in actual revenue from the corresponding period in 2010.

“Despite our total handle being down marginally, the fact that we make up approximately three times the revenue for an ontrack wager as compared to wagers made at a NYCOTB parlor allows us to offset much of that lose handle revenue,” NYRA’s president and CEO, Charles Hayward said.

Belmont Park was scheduled to open Friday. For the first time, Aqueduct will be open for wagering on Belmont’s races as well as from racing from out of state.