05/11/2016 11:49AM

Giwner: Yonkers commingling of pools with French PMU imminent

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Mike Lizzi
Yonkers began simulcasting races to France in November 2014 and will start commingling later this month.

The future is coming to Yonkers Raceway. The long awaited debut of International commingling of pools now has a firm start-up date of Tuesday, May 24.

On that fourth Tuesday in May, Yonkers will be the host track for all WIN and SHOW wagers placed via the French PMU on the five races expected to be simulcast across the Atlantic Ocean to our European neighbors.

“We’ve been working very hard to get this done as quickly as possible,” said Alex Dadoyan, Executive Director for the Standardbred Owners Association of New York. “We never could have reached this point without Tim Rooney (President, Yonkers Raceway) and Bob Galterio (VP and COO) supporting the project. You also have to give credit to Joe (Faraldo, President of the SOA of NY) and the board of the SOA.”

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Yonkers has been sending its signal to the French PMU wagering hub since November 2014. They started by transmitting a handful of races on five cards that year and expanded to 31 dates and 173 races in 2015. This year the track is simulcasting races on 32 cards for a total of 183 races.

Dadoyan, who was hired by the SOA to spearhead the commingling and French simulcasting projects, was quite pleased with the timeframe in which the goal was achieved.

“I honestly didn’t think it would happen this quickly,” said Dadoyan, who got the official word that the launch was a go on Tuesday (May 10).

While May 24 has been the target date for months, nothing could be set in stone as behind the scenes work had to be done to ensure that the French tote system would communicate properly with the American Tote companies.

The true winner in commingling is the bettors. WIN pools, which averaged just over $9,000 in the U.S. for the six races which were sent to France on May 10, could easily double or triple according to Dadoyan and SHOW pools could become a viable option as well. The typical show pool on the French PMU are at least triple their normal American counterpart.

Dadoyan pointed out that in addition to potential value available to bettors due to increased pool size, the fact that International patrons may handicap races differently could cause overlays that never existed in the past.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen a situation where a large part of the money wagered on a U.S. product has come from a foreign country,” said Dadoyan.

After the initial May 24 launch date, there will be a one month gap in the comingling action due to a planned break in the Yonkers Raceway calendar. Simulcasting to France will return on June 21 and continue nearly every other Tuesday until mid-September when there will be another four-week break until the track simulcasts programs on October 11 and 15. On October 15, four races will be sent overseas including the $1,000,000 Yonkers International Trot, a showcase for the best older trotters in the world. November and December feature five Sunday and four Tuesday dates for the International simulcasting audience.

Although it has yet to commence, one can only marvel at the possible boost that global commingled simulcasting could provide for the racing industry. What starts at Yonkers could potentially have a rippling affect with the proper cooperation.

“Anytime you lay the groundwork it is easier for another track,” said Dadoyan on the possibility of other North American tracks following suit.

While worldwide simulcasting sounds great, Dadoyan did point out that scheduling makes it more difficult to expand too quickly. “Of course we would want to increase distribution not just to France but everywhere. But realistically, [French PMU] has a racing calendar and it is pretty crowded, so it is not possible to send full cards to Europe. Plus the time difference comes into play.

“The Australian market time-wise is more convenient because when we race at night it is morning there. Plus they take wagers on pace races. That (commingling with Australia) is something we are pushing for and would like to see happen.”

Whether or not International commingling has a major impact will depend on short term success and long term expansion. For the sake of the sport, we should all hope to see more of this brand of cooperation and less of the infighting that has too often infiltrated the simulcasting market and stripped players of wagering opportunities. 

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