04/25/2007 11:00PM

NYRA gets Internet license


The New York State Racing and Wagering Board on Thursday approved a license for the New York Racing Association that allows it to take wagers over the Internet and "other communications devices," according to a spokesman for the board, Dan Toomey.

NYRA had been seeking the license since the New York legislature authorized Internet wagering operations last year. John Ryan, NYRA's chief administrative officer, said that NYRA hopes to launch the platform by May 2, opening day of the association's Belmont meet.

"We've got some testing to do, make sure the system runs all right, and we need to do that in a live environment, since we weren't able to do that until the approval," Ryan said.

Under law, only New York racetracks and offtrack betting corporations can take Internet wagers from New York residents.

NYRA has an agreement with Television Games Network for in-home betting rights, but that agreement does not cover New York and Connecticut. As a result, NYRA's Internet operation will be available only to residents of those two states, and NYRA will not be able to stream its races live on the site. In New York, NYRA's races are available on a state cable channel.

Ryan said that existing customers of NYRA's telephone betting service would be able to sign up for Internet betting by supplying an Internet address, after which the customer would receive a personal identification number.

NYRA is tying its rewards program into the Internet platform, allowing customers to earn rebates after hitting certain thresholds of monthly handle.