Hey Pick 4 NYC, you don't frequent those NYC OTBs do you ? I hope not. Please don't let the Gestapo know that those parlors assess a 5 % surcharge on winning tickets or they're liable to get ideas. TC
Good point TC.
However, certain of the facilities are OTB/Restaurants, and for a $5 entrance fee, you get paid track prices sans surcharge. The flip side of that is you end up buying a crappy $15 hamburger, served by typically rude and non caring waitresses. To say the harness player is an abused bunch is a mild understatement.
I could go on an on about NYCOTB and their operations, but this isn't the right forum. Just recently they tried to slip in a "fee" on inactive phone accounts, requiring that you wager a minimum of $50 per month to otherwise avoid it. Needless to say they quickly realized the error of their ways and removed the surcharge (they must have experienced the closing of many phone accounts I'm gathering). Of course, in notifying the general public that this fee was removed, they'd flash this "news item" across their cable channel all day and night long, naturally interfering with the broadcasting of any ongoing races.
As a long time harness player I welcomed betting and watching the Maywood/Balmoral races from the comfort of my own apt, but a few years back, on races being run from Sunday through Wednesday night, OTB saw it fit to basically remove the broadcasting and betting on the last 2 or 3 races of each of these cards. I tried to get an explanation from them, but naturally that fell upon deaf ears. Got to love it; a Gaming establishment whose business plan seems to be intent on encouraging people NOT to bet. All the more reason why OTB should not be a gov't or politically run operation. It simply doesn't work.
Lastly, and to digress from the topic at hand, for many reasons I more or less have stopped betting the Maywood/Balmoral cards; mostly as a result of a decline in the quality of racing. Bear in mind I'm not even talking about horse quality, but rather in questionable driver performance. As bizarre as this might sound, and I'm sure I'll get ridiculed by some, in addition to the Big M, I'd much rather wager on the races from Hoosier and Indiana Downs, because from my perception, it seems that there is a lot more flow to these races, more "trying" if you will, and I genuinely feel I'm getting a better bang for my buck. In addition, Youbet has a contract with these tracks, and frankly getting a 5% rebate on net winnings per race from most of their harness tracks (although nominal when compared to the 9% I used to get on handle from, lets just say, a now closed operation), is still better than nothing.
This is where the tracks fail miserably in taking care of their customer. I know the whole business of rebates is a hotly debated topic, but hey, if I'm going to put at least $75k to $100k of action through the windows annually, the facility I'm speculating through better pony up something, or else they're not going to have me as a customer. Casinos understand this concept, hell credit card companies understand this with their varied reward programs, but the (harness) racing industry, the on site tracks in particular, they just don't get it. You can't constantly ask the public to continue to bend over and take shit, whether it be from a perceptually tilted game, or bad in-house services (food, etc) because guess what, the customers will move on (and they have obviously). This is why I never bet through OTB anymore (other than as a means of having dinner with my few harness racing friends on occassion), and once they tried to squeeze in that phone surcharge, I closed my phone account.
Forgive me and my soap box here, but unfortunately we all seem to love this dying game in one form or another. I started playing in the late 70's, and thought Roosevelt Raceway was the greatest place on earth. Coupled with the fact that I went to college in Western NY (Batavia, Buffalo), I met more interesting if not otherwise diseased characters (lol), it just got in my blood and I was fortunate enough to get my fill of many tracks and many many great races during the hey day of the game. I still support it though, and do have a part interest in a baby PA bred trotter (we took one of the $12,000 late closing 2-year old trotting events recently at the Red Mile).
One last thing - nothing to do with this post whatsoever, but in my opinion, Walter Case was simply the most talented driver I've seen in the last 20 years. I could swear not only where the other drivers intimidated by him (particularly at Northfield), but the horses were afraid to lose when he drove them. That guy could get a mule across the finsih line first.