Recommendations for New York's racing
Higher payouts on winning bets, facility upgrades and more fan retention programs were some of the ideas recommended for New York's thoroughbred and harness tracks by a state-mandated fan advisory council.
The New York State Racing Fan Advisory Council's 2012 report and recommendations were released to the public Wednesday. The four-person council, created through a 2011 directive from the state Racing and Wagering Board, traveled across the state, talking to racing fans and experts to compile this initial snapshot of ideas for the state's racing industry.
A full copy of the report is available below.
"We believe it is a series of realistic measures that can bring about positive change to our industry," council Chairman Patrick Connors said in the report. "We will continue to identify and map out more comprehensive recommendations."
The first recommendation was to lower the percentage withheld by track operators on winning bets. John Hendrickson, a special advisor to the New York Racing Association board, which oversees racing at Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct, said this provision should definitely be considered.
"Lower takeout leads to more business," he said.
Especially with gamblers using off-track simulcast options, Hendricskon said, there is a desire to make as much money as possible with every bet. He predicted if more money is paid out, more bets will be placed, which is better for the state and for racing.
At Saratoga Race Course, the council came up with a plan for reselling or reusing reserved seating, an issue raised when they met with fans this summer at the track. Season ticketholders in the clubhouse or grandstand currently can't return their tickets to NYRA on days they won't be using them, so many seats are left open on weekdays and fans who want to use the seats are denied access.
The council recommends two options that would make unused clubhouse tickets available to fans on the day of races, which would improve their experience and potentially create new fans. Tickets could be made available by the ticketholder through a donation process or an account crediting system. Either plan would need a directive from the state racing board for implementation.
A full story on the report will be in Thursday's edition of The Daily Gazette.
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