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Thursday, January 24, 2013

New York Legislative Report

A bill has been introduced in New York State to allow racetracks to offer formal rebate programs for on-track customers.  Under the terms of S2433, such programs will need to be approved on an annual basis by the State Gaming Commission.  The rationale for this bill?  Allow the racetracks to compete against off-shore rebate shops. 

Of course this bill does exhibit the state's need to micro-manage racing.  Why do these programs have to be approved annually?  While I think the tracks should be able to set up rebate programs as they see fit without regulatory oversight, if the state feels a need to have their hands in things, wouldn't it make sense to only have to go to the gaming commission when one wants to modify the program?  To think you need to get the gaming commission's approval just to say you may continue what you have been doing is absurd.  But then, this is a state where you need to get the board's approval to offer a free betting voucher with sufficient lead time which prevents last minute marketing campaigns.

Don't think Ontario could happen elsewhere, there is always someone looking to crowd into what racing has going.  Take for example New York Assemblyman Hooper who has introduced Assembly Bill 1899 which would allow a pilot program to allow VLTs at OTB facilities.  While the bill initially would limit the experiment to Nassau OTB's telemetry, it should be noted that it is only 28 miles from Aqueduct's racino.  I have no doubt this program would be a success and you will see VLTs at OTBs throughout the state taking revenue from racing.

While I regret being as old as I am, it is a good thing I started playing the horses at Yonkers Raceway at the age of 14 when I did because I was violating the law only for 4 years because if Assembly bill A2082 was in effect way back then, I would have been violating the law for 7 years as this bill would raise the age for gambling on horses to 21.  The rationale?  Protecting them from becoming addicted to gambling.

I will never be one to belittle the idea of people possibly becoming addicted to gambling; it happens but if you make them wait until they are 21, there is a good chance they will still become addicted; just later.  As far as I am concerned, if a person can graduate high school, vote, and have a full time job, they should be able to afford themselves of  whatever legal entertainment they chose and if it is playing the horses so be it.  At a certain point, people need to take personal responsibility for their actions.  Besides, racing should be so lucky to get those 18-21 year olds to play the horses anyway.  Odds are they are playing poker or sneaking on the racino floor to play the VLTs.

On a positive side, Governor Cuomo wants to dedicate $1.5-$2 million of VLT revenue towards horse safety measures.  It should be intereesting to see how horsemen respond to this.

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