BATAVIA – As would be expected, the president of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. said he is “very pleased” about this week’s decision by the New York State Gaming Commission to extend live Internet streaming of horse racing from the state’s harness and thoroughbred tracks for another year.
“We’re very pleased and we’re looking forward to a successful year for our Internet platform,” Michael D. Kane said on Wednesday, referring to the renewal of a pact among all track operators and OTBs that originated in 2010.
Earlier this month, Kane said he was concerned that video streaming into homes via its bataviabets.com website would not continue due to opposition by Buffalo Raceway.
As it turned out, James Mango, chief operating officer at Buffalo Raceway, was the only representative of the 13 racing entities that did not sign the agreement that will be in effect through Dec. 22, 2016. In previous years, all tracks and OTBs signed off.
Lee R. Park, director of communications for the Gaming Commission, said his agency approved the contract for another year after its attorneys reviewed the matter and added a clause that states the amendment shall continue to bind all parties that signed it, notwithstanding that any party declines to sign it.
Buffalo Raceway’s refusal to sign the agreement now prohibits it from in-home simulcasting, which it currently does not offer, Park said.
“However, if the track wanted to in the future it would now not be allowed,” Park said. “Buffalo Raceway can still export its signal as those are part of simulcasting agreements. This agreement only addresses video streaming to account holders, for example on your computer.”
Mango said he didn’t sign “as a matter of principle.”
“From my point of view, I was hoping that they (the Gaming Commission) would look at it as a regional matter,” he said. “I thought I was entitled to that consideration.”
Mango previously stated that Buffalo Raceway has been hurt financially due to Batavia Downs’ live video streaming and the fact that the Hamburg track cannot afford an Internet platform of its own.
He said he believed the purpose of the contract was to protect Buffalo Raceway from other tracks or OTBs wishing to stream races online in his track’s vicinity. Since this is no longer the case, he was hoping (to no avail at this point) to negotiate with Western Regional OTB for compensation.
“I understand that it was a situation that I could not win,” he added. “But we do have a great gaming commission and I have to look at the whole picture.”