Fixed Odds On Horse Racing Coming To NY?

Key lawmaker Addabbo is introducing a bill that would make that happen
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As New York regulators make progress on authorizing mobile sports betting in the state early next year, one state senator wants to take things a step further.

Joseph Addabbo Jr., the chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering, has introduced a bill that reads in part:

“As the [state sports betting] law is written, a wagerer would not be able to place a fixed odds bet through a mobile sports wagering operator on a horse race. This legislation would enable mobile sports wagering providers to offer that opportunity, should they so choose, but only if they enter into an agreement with the horse racing content provider.”

The bill is scheduled to be up for discussion as soon as January, when the Senate’s session resumes.

“We’re looking to maximize our potential,” Addabbo told industry trade publication BloodHorse. “There should be a marriage of the horse racing industry and mobile sports betting.”

The traditional parimutuel system for horse racing is such that race bettors place their wager without knowing what the final odds will be.

That can either be beneficial or injurious to a gambler’s bankroll, but what bettors tend to remember is when a horse they bet at 6-1 about 15 minutes before the race begins ends up at 3-1 when the horses leave the starting gate — and that’s the price at which they get paid out.

“[Fixed odds wagers] would expand consumer choice by placing premium horse racing content on the same mobile shelf as other professional sports, which would generate $1 billion or more in additional gaming revenue for New York state,” said NYRA spokesman Patrick McKenna in a statement.

While fixed odds initially would be limited to thoroughbred racing under the terms of Addabbo’s bill, the senator added that harness racing eventually could be included as well.

It’s also worth noting that fixed odds fans in New York must be patient: A provision in the bill clarifies that the state gaming commission will not offer final approval fewer than 12 months after passage of the bill.

New Jersey also may add fixed horse racing odds

Monmouth Park operator Dennis Drazin has been on the fixed odds bandwagon for several years.

Drazin believes that younger gamblers, especially those now focused on legal sports betting, would be more inclined to consider a horse racing bet if that, too, was fixed in its odds at the time of the wager.

While many in the horse racing industry are wary of fixed odds “cannibalizing” the parimutuel pools, Drazin has noted that the new bets only would be for win, place, and show — and that about two-thirds of all wagers are on “exotic” plays from daily doubles to Pick-6s and beyond.

Earlier this month, the NJ attorney general’s office adopted final rules on how to offer fixed odds — with Drazin saying he hoped New Jerseyans will be able to place such a bet on races “before the end of the year.”

Australian gaming firm BetMakers reportedly has fixed odds deals in place with tracks such as Canterbury Park, Colonial Downs, Delaware Park, Emerald Downs, Grants Pass Downs, Lone Star Park, Tampa Bay Downs, and Hawthorne.

Meadowlands Racetrack operator Jeff Gural has been among those who have publicly stated a preference to “wait and see” how fixed odds plays out at Monmouth Park before trying at his track.

Addabbo’s other gambling innovation

Another part of Addabbo’s new gambling bill is a provision to allow for “authorizing agreements between a mobile sports wagering operator and an affiliate.”

What’s an affiliate? Per the bill, aside from horse racing entities, it is “a professional sports stadium or arena.”

When Addabbo first introduced such a proposal in mid-2019, he said his goal was to have betting kiosks at sites such as Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Not included was Citi Field in Queens, home of the Mets, because that borough already will have sports betting at Aqueduct Racetrack — but the new bill eliminates that restriction. Illinois and the District of Columbia already allow for such wagering at stadiums and arenas.

This gambling innovation has an even longer “wait date” than fixed odds, with a 20-month delay rather than 12 months.

But mobile sports wagering — the bigger prize, by all accounts — is moving at surprising speed. Just last week, the commission released its report on final rules.

“I give credit to the New York State Gaming Commission for their work in advancing the state’s mobile sports betting process ahead of schedule, including the completion and posting of the rules,” Addabbo said in a statement.

“As we complete each important step towards offering our residents a premier mobile sports betting product in New York, we must focus on getting the servers negotiated, so that they’re up and running at the approved casinos in order to take the first New York mobile sports bets for some time in January.”

Photo: Dennis W. Donohue/Shutterstock

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