08/20/2008 11:00PM

Raise in New York takeout put off


The New York legislature passed a bill late on Wednesday that will delay by six months the implementation of a highly unpopular 1-percent increase in takeout on bets made by New York residents on simulcast races.

The increase was set to take effect on Sept. 15 as part of a bill passed in July that transferred the assets of New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation to the state. A budget bill passed on Wednesday by the legislature moved that date to March 15 by amending the original legislation.

The July bill also included a 1-percent across-the-board increase on the takeout for wagers made on races run at the New York Racing Association's three tracks. That increase was untouched by legislators Wednesday, and is still slated to take effect on Sept. 15.

The takeout increase on simulcast wagers was widely derided by bettors and many state racing officials. The effect of the takeout increase would have been lower payouts on all winning wagers made by New York residents on simulcasts compared with the payouts offered to all other bettors in the country. The difference between the payouts would have been retained by the company that took the bets.

Charles Hayward, the chief executive officer of the New York Racing Association, said on Thursday that NYRA will continue to lobby the legislature over the next six months to get the increase entirely removed.

"The good news here is that the legislative leaders listened to people from the industry and clearly understood that this had unintended negative consequences that they didn't foresee," Hayward said.

NYRA's lobbyists had told legislators over the past several weeks that the increase would unfairly penalize New York bettors and drive horseplayers to out-of-state account-wagering companies, Hayward said. Several offtrack betting companies supported NYRA's position, he said.

The July legislation created a task force to study ways to improve the state's offtrack betting system. The task force is expected to release its recommendations before March 1.

Hayward said racing officials hope that the task force will conclude that the increase on simulcast wagers would be counterproductive and recommend it be scuttled.