12/22/2010 5:48PM

N.Y. racetracks, OTBs get approval to video-stream races


The New York State Racing and Wagering Board has given the state’s racetracks and regional Off-Track Betting corporations approval to video-stream races for one year, effective immediately.

The state’s five regional OTBs were likely to begin video-streaming races as early as Thursday, but the New York Racing Association – which is currently conducting racing at Aqueduct – is not expected to begin video-streaming before its next live racing date, Dec. 29.

In the wake of the Dec. 7 shutdown of New York City OTB, the ability to video-stream races live was viewed as key component by New York Racing Association president Charles Hayward as a way for NYRA to recoup some of the lost handle from OTB players. In previous comments, Hayward believed that former OTB customers were more likely to open advance deposit wagering accounts with companies that could show the races live on the Internet.

NYRA officials were unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Since Dec. 8, NYRA has signed up more than 1,200 new customers to its NYRA Rewards program, and now fans who wager via telephone and/or the Internet will be able to see the races live on the computer as they happen.

Though several facets of the racing industry interpreted the law differently, the ability to video-stream required the consent of all of the OTBS and tracks before the State Racing and Wagering Board would approve it.

“We’re very pleased that the major financial stake holders in New York racing have come together and acted in their common best interests,” SRWB chairman John Sabini said Wednesday through a New York State Racing and Wagering spokesperson.