Wednesday, December 3, 2008

‘Big A’ Bettors Get Exclusive Club by Victor Mimoni - The Queens Courier

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The “new” New York Racing Association (NYRA) is making good on its promises to make Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park more attractive to bettors, with the opening of the NYRA Rewards Players Club.

Members of the New York Racing Association’s NYRA Rewards program can handicap races in comfort at the new Players Club at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park.Photo Courtesy of New York Racing Association

According to NYRA spokesperson John Lee, the clubroom, which made its debut on Saturday, November 29, will be open to account holders who bet “in the $10,000-a-year-range,” although the limit “is something we’re working out.”

Looking somewhat like a cross between an old library and the War Room in the Pentagon, it features “approximately” 50 workstations at wooden desks with green-shaded desktop lamps and spindle-back chairs. The dark gray walls are covered with display screens showing race information from tracks all over the country and a flat screen TV covering races in progress.

In addition, there is a lounge area with “light refreshments” available and concierge service, according to Lee. The room’s total capacity is “over 100.”

Lee said that “On most days we have coffee and pastries; on occasional special events, we’ll have snacks, sandwiches, salads and soft drinks to go with coffee and dessert.”

“The concierge greets members at the door, explains the benefits of membership to interested non-members, distributes programs, monitors the refreshment area and assists with any issues surrounding the use of self-service betting machines,” he explained.

“In the future,” Lee continued, “They will distribute complimentary food and beverage vouchers based on a member’s level of wagering, assist with restaurant reservations, et cetera.”

Taking a page from other books, so to speak, NYRA has upgraded and modernized its operations. It now offers “express funding” of its in-house card accounts - deposits are credited the day they are made, up to $500 per day.

In addition to online betting at their web site, NYRA also offers three modes of wagering-by-phone: by live operator, voice recognition or touch-tone service.

As a club, the “Rewards” are greater for more active members. Lee pointed out that the concierge would reserve a workstation at an active bettor’s request, for example.

The program is based on “points.” Members earn one point for every dollar wagered at a NYRA track (Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga) and a half-point for “non-NYRA simulcast races.”

Once an account holder accumulates 2,000 or more points in a month, the reward becomes cash - a one percent cash credit for the following month, that is.

At 5,000 points in a month, the reward goes to one-and-a-half percent and at 10,000-a-month, the percentage increases for “two-horse” bets - even more for “exotic” bets, like the “trifecta.”

Through several levels, up to an eye-popping 500,000 points-a-month, rewards climb to 3 percent for “win-place-show” bets, 4 percent for “two-horse” and 7 percent for “exotics.”

NYRA doesn’t count “sure-thing” wagers that pay $2.10 on a $2 bet, however and there are a host of terms and conditions.

For more information on the rewards program, visit