Saturday, June 14, 2008

Random Notes: NYCOTB, ADW's, etc..

Apparently Governor Patterson has decided that the best solution for the NYCOTB's is a state takeover, at least temporarily. In as much as my last post would have one believe that I think government can offer improvement in the game the truth is that I feel that in all but two instances I think government should stay out of racing. Those two instances are drugs and standardizing wagering fees to insure that the money wagered gets counted where it should. And, I will go a little farther in stating that I think intervention is necessary in these two situations only because the industry has proven their inability to be able to properly deal with these issues. Governor Patterson will appoint a "temporary" board to replace the the city controlled board for a term of 90 days. Or at least that is the plan.

Paterson said the state will now embark on a study to “examine the entire racing and wagering industry’’ in New York that could include consolidating other OTB operations now scattered across the state. [Bloodhorse]

What this does to rectify the situation I don't know. Everyone knows the OTB's should be consolidated. Everyone knows there's waste and corruption where there's big money. So revenue will go to the state first, so a new bureaucracy of people will be getting paid instead of the old board, what will change? There will just be a change in the crooks. I have less faith than ever in a good outcome after reading this news. Once government gets into this business it is going to be hard to get them out; at least that's my opinion. Of course, as was expected, the state has decided that a raise of 1% in the takeout fees is part of the solution!

Another aspect to this that just flat out scares me is that:

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said two of the bidders vying to run the long-stalled Aqueduct casino project have also expressed interest in running NYCOTB if the state takes it over. He did not name the bidders.

It makes me believe that this was the plan all along. And I will bet my last dollar, that if Bruno is involved, Capital Play will be running the OTB's in NY before long. Of course they would like to run the OTB's, who wouldn't? Does anyone really believe the rhetoric that these are losing propositions? If there is any reason they do lose money it is because there are too many hands in the cookie jar and government: state, city and local are the biggest hands.

As I write this (Saturday morning) NPR radio is reporting that this new organization does not placate Mayor Bloomberg and there remains a likelihood that unless more specifics are hammered out closure of NYCOTB's may take place tomorrow night. Another nuance I find interesting is how Bloomberg and Sheldon Silver can have such divergent opinions on this matter.

“There was no way we could let New York City OTB shut down,’’ said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

In this instance Sheldon Silver is more realistic than Bloomberg. He of course realizes that the $17 million the city receives from NYCOTB is real even if it doesn't show up through a convenient trick of bookkeeping. I'll reiterate what I've written before: Close them and see where Bloomberg stands after a shutdown occurs. This whole situation gets my blood boiling but I stop here to address another related issue, ADW wagering.

I refer you to another Bloodhorse article: State Lawmakers urged to Take ADW Action. The article illustrates how difficult it is to get one's mind around the truth. Here's a few quotes to illustrate my point.

Drew Couto told the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States conference in Napa, Calif., that the conflict between ADW companies, the tracks and horsemen “is extremely problematic for our industry.
“Less than 50 percent of the revenues from ADW flow to racing interests,” he added.

He said ADW companies now conduct wagering in 43 states and estimated that the service providers receive about 58% of the revenue realized through such bets.

What does this actually mean? I read it as only 42% of the money bet gets into the pool. That doesn't seem possible. That would mean that only$33.60 of every hundred dollars bet goes into the pool, if we use a 20% takeout rate for arguments sake. But as I've said before there are days where I can't believe that the pools are not much larger considering how big a draw certain races or cards are. This is your money that is being discussed here. It is our obligation to sort this out. Your payoffs and the product you watch is being impacted. We need to demand transparency and precise terms. I'll get an email off to find out if I can get to the bottom of this.

As I am extremely pressed for time this morning I will just add one more, recurrent pet-peeve before posting. Why can't we all get to see the Stephen Foster? Why must we scramble to simulcast outlets if we can't get HRTV? What a terrific field! Instead of reiterating what I've said before here's an entry from the past that says it Repeat Performance. What a pity!

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