SARATOGA SPRINGS — With the COVID pandemic on the downside in New York and no new restrictions on the horizon, the 2022 race meet at Saratoga Racecourse looks like a sure thing.
Looking beyond this season and beyond the three thoroughbred tracks it operates in New York, the New York Racing Association has added a second partner to expand the reach of its NYRA online horse racing betting platform. bets.
The sums wagered through NYRA Bets have increased every year since its debut, from $303 million in 2016 to $694 million in 2021.
Caesars Sportsbook and NYRA Bets announced their new partnership on Thursday; Caesars Racebook will debut later this spring, using the NYRA Bets platform.
Two months ago, Caesars Sportsbook has become the Official Sportsbook Marketing Partner of NYRA.
And NYRA Bets became BetMGM’s first horse racing partner in May 2021.
The partnerships with Caesars come amid the New York debut of mobile sports betting, which doesn’t extend to horse racing but does involve the same activity: placing bets from smartphones and computers.
In the first 30 days it was legal in New York, 1.76 million sports betting accounts were created and punters placed 187 million bets worth $2 billion.
“Ultimately what it does is increase the total addressable market,” NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke said Monday. “The number of people involved in this platform is huge.”
NYRA’s online expansion complements the in-person tradition at thoroughbred racetracks that NYRA franchises. Bets placed on races at the three tracks totaled $2.73 billion for all sources in 2021, the most ever seen.
Attendance at the Saratoga racetrack topped 1 million in 2021 and a record $815.5 million was wagered on races there, despite limited time to prepare for the competition after it was cleared by state officials. The 2020 meeting was held without spectators as a COVID precaution.
O’Rourke said the indicators are good so far for the 2022 season at Saratoga.
It remains to be seen what impact gasoline prices will have on tourism and attendance, he said, but community interest is strong and, for the first time since 2019, there is a chance to do the full gamut of preparations for the meeting and offer a complete calendar. advance ticket sales.
“I think we’re looking at another banner year at Saratoga,” O’Rourke said. “I think we are seeing a return to normalcy.”
While the pandemic disrupted NYRA’s in-person operations in 2020, it also raised NYRA’s stakes. His biggest annual win so far was in 2020, when the tracks were closed to viewers and 46% more money was wagered through NYRA Bets than the year before.
O’Rourke attributes much of NYRA Bets’ growth to NYRA races being televised nationally on FOX Sports. NYRA Bets was late to the game, he said, and to expand nationally it needed to differentiate itself from other platforms.
“Our differentiator is television.”
In business terms, horse racing is content while television and online platforms are delivery, he said. NYRA is starting from a high content referral base with the Belmont and Saratoga tracks and the more widely it can deliver that content, the better it can perform.
“Saratoga the brand is the best racing brand in the United States,” he said.
NYRA Bets is available in 31 states and allows users to watch and bet on races at 250 tracks around the world.
Any online bet placed from New York on a New York race is financially treated as a bet placed at the track window itself, with the same benefit to horse owners. Bets placed elsewhere are less lucrative, but still have the effect of generating revenue in New York and on NYRA tracks, O’Rourke said.
However, the regulatory framework becomes more complicated across state lines: NYRA Bets has a single-jurisdiction New York license for New York racing and a multi-jurisdiction Oregon license for races in Oregon and the other 29 state.
A hitherto elusive industry goal is the “shared wallet” concept, whereby bettors can use a single deposit account to place any type of bet that is available online, whether it be a baseball game or a race. of bets.
This would bring NYRA Bets closer to a larger audience. (BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook have taken a combined $1.2 billion in bets in the first two months of legalized mobile sports betting in New York.)
Technological issues such as credit card transaction category codes put the shared wallet out of reach for now, O’Rourke said, but the goal remains.
“There is a lot of work behind the scenes that has to be done.”
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