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No agreement in place, but race books to stay open

On a day when all thoroughbred racehorses celebrate being a year older, horseplayers in race books throughout Nevada also have a reason to celebrate today as the signal emanating from Aqueduct in New York will go on uninterrupted for now.

The Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association, which represents the race books, and the New York Racing Association, which oversees racing in that state, did not reach an agreement on a new deal Wednesday when the current deal was set to expire.

Instead, they agreed to continue to talk and keep the signal on. The extension is expected to last through the end of January and perhaps into February if enough progress is made.

“A brief, mutually agreed upon extension is currently in place,” a NYRA spokesman said Wednesday. “Beyond this and as a matter of policy, we will not have further comment.”

In addition, the Pari-Mutuel Association continues to have talks with the Monarch Content Management, which owns and operates Santa Anita, Gulfstream, Golden Gate and Laurel. Those deals also expired Wednesday, and an extension is also in place while talks continue.

John Avello, who runs the race and sports book at Wynn Las Vegas and who has been involved with the negotiations with the tracks, said he was more optimistic than a week ago that Nevada and NYRA, along with Monarch, can come to terms on a new deal.

“It always comes down to time and the number,” Avello said Wednesday. “Obviously, we’d like a longer deal so we don’t have to go through this every year. But we like all the products we have, and the companies like dealing with us. I think everyone is trying to reach a common ground, and I’m always hopeful we’ll get a deal.”

The books pay the track a percentage to receive the track’s signal. The percentage varies from track to track. The more popular the track and the larger the handle, the more the Pari-Mutuel Association pays the track.

In New York, approximately $50 million was bet on Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga in 2014.

Though the actual percentage has not been made public, sources with knowledge of the information say Nevada pays NYRA 4 to 5 percent. NYRA, which underwent a management change in 2013, is looking for a significant increase in the rate.

Avello said the Pari-Mutuel Association understands the track’s concerns but that the race books have their own bottom line to deal with.

“We’re here to accommodate our customers,” Avello said. “We have a lot of costs that go beyond the signal. But I’m confident we’ll eventually get this worked out and everyone will get what they want.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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