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Emily D. Swoboda

New York Legislature Approves Internet Horse Race Wagering

22 June 2006

Internet wagering on horse races has a good chance of becoming legal in New York, thanks to a measure passed this week in the state's Senate.

The bill, A8688 (S5391), was introduced by Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow, Chairman of the Committee on Racing and Wagering, on June 3, 2005. It asks to amend a New York law that permits residents to open telephone wagering accounts at off track betting parlors and racetracks by adding cell phones and the Internet to the ways in which bettors can legally wager on horse races.

It also seeks to extend the life of the most recent incarnation of the law, which is set to expire June 30, 2007, to June 30, 2009.

The measure was passed by the Senate Tuesday and will now be delivered to Gov. George Pataki for final approval, said a legislative analyst for the New York Assembly.

Consdering Pataki's record for approving gambling expansion in the state, the bill seems likely to gain approval.

"I'd be really surprised if he rejected it," said the Assembly analyst.

Proponents say the measure merely keeps up with modern communication advances that were not envisaged when the current telephone account wagering law was adopted in 1980.

"Internet is telephone betting," the analyst said. "People are already using it. This is only a clarification of the law."

The legislation requires that all protections now in place with telephone wagering be extended to the Internet, and only intrastate wagering would be permitted.

"This bill should help to reduce the cost of placing a bet because the transaction cost of placing a bet over the Internet to a New York race track or OTB is much lower than placing a bet via a telephone that is answered by an OTB consumer representative,'' states a legislative memo in support of the measure. "The reduction in the transaction costs will allow race track facilities and OTBs to earn greater profits and to pay more money to winning bettors and to support the operation of state and local governments.''

The measure, which received final approval late on June 20, was pushed heavily by the New York City Off Track Betting Corporation (NYCOTB).

"I am glad that both houses have passed a bill that brings the law in line with what racing fans and most industry players agree must be part of the future or racing,'' said Raymond Casey, CEO of NYCOTB. "OTB has always been about delivering convenience to its players, and we hope this bill becomes law and we can continue to do that in a modern manner. This bill only recognizes that telecommunication convergence is real and is here.”

If approved by Pataki, the law would take effect 180 days from the day it is signed.

Click here to view New York Assembly Bill A8688.

New York Legislature Approves Internet Horse Race Wagering is republished from
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda