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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New York Tracks About to Cost Themselves Money?

For years, harness tracks in New York received what is known as Maintenance of Effort (MOE) payments from regional OTBs as compensation for allowing OTBs the right to simulcast nighttime thoroughbred signals.  The theory of MOE is to make sure the 'commissions' the harness tracks make does not decrease because of the decision of importing thoroughbred signals.  The program was fair in respect it supported New York racing from out of state signals.

This may be coming to the end for at least one track and may impact some other tracks to varying degrees if a lawsuit by the regional OTBs is successful.  They seek to end MOE payments for harness tracks that race during the day and only continue payments for those days races begin after 6pm.  The impact would vary depending on the track.  For a track like Yonkers Raceway, there would be no impact as they don't race during the daytime, there would be no change.  For a track like Tioga Downs, they would lose the MOE payment for Sundays.  On the other hand, Monticello Raceway would lose all their payments except for their Fourth of July card since they have made the decision to race during the day.

Since I try to be fair at VFTRG, I must side with the OTBs.  For years, harness racing was a night sport and thoroughbred racing was a daytime game.  When thoroughbred tracks decided to move into harness racing's timezone and OTB decided to show their signals, it made sense to compensate harness tracks.  However, when harness tracks decide to invade thoroughbred hours, whose fault is it that handle decreases?  The responsibility lies with the harness tracks.  They should not be compensated for making the business decision to race in thoroughbred primetime so there should be no MOE payments when harness tracks decide to race during the day.

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