Tote inks South African deal, NYC OTB buys time, ROA prez feeling his oats

tote-south-africa-nyc-otb-roaThe UK Tote has inked a deal with South African racing outfit Phumelela to allow UK bettors to wager directly on South African pools. The timing of the deal couldn’t be better, what with all that snow on the ground leaving the UK’s horses shivering in their stables and punters with no wager-worthy action. Betting shops will find a full slate of South African racing on Turf TV, beginning with Saturday’s meeting at Kenilworth.

New York City’s troubled Off Track Betting Corp. has backed off its threat to shut down operations on Friday. The OTB board of directors agreed to keep the lights on another four days to allow the state Senate enough time to muster the votes to pass legislation the OTB requires to perform its restructuring. Legislation is required because said restructuring involves reductions in statutory payments to racetracks, breeding funds and (oh, yeah) government. The state Assembly had passed the legislation on Tuesday, but the Senate did not have the 32 votes necessary for passage, although it is expected to have all its ducks in a row by Tuesday’s special session. Even with this lifeline, most observers say the cash-starved racing outfit is simply kicking its financial can down the road, or as one wag put it, ‘delaying disaster.’

Speaking of delaying disaster, Racehorse Owners Association president Paul Dixon has been crowing a bit over the independent members of the Levy Board having accepted many of the ROA’s recommendations, including the abolition of the threshold system and the reintroduction of the levy on foreign racing. But Dixon told the Association members gathered for their annual awards shindig that he won’t be satisfied until the issue of ‘offshore’ bookmakers anteing up is resolved. Dixon singled out Sportingbet as being the only good sports among this rogue’s gallery of tax exiles. Dixon went on to say that British horseracing’s link with the public ‘has become frayed’ and acknowledged that there was no consensus among the horsey set as to ‘how to achieve the re-invigoration’ – except, you know, great scads of bookmakers’ money.