Assemblyman proposes new way to bet on horses

As the battle rages over the fate of the Bay Meadows Racecourse, Assemblyman Leland Yee, D-Daly City/San Francisco, is pushing for a new kind of gambling he says could help revive the ailing racetrack industry in California.

Assembly bill 2409 would allow racetrack visitors to participate in “instant horse racing,” where a patron uses a machine to wager on one of 250,000 historical horse races from the last 30 years, Yee’s spokesman Adam Keigwin said. After placing a wager — knowing only the horse’s statistics and odds — the customer could watch the original race on the machine.

The assemblyman and state senator-elect has not taken a position on the racetrack redevelopment project — which aims to turnthe track into an 83-acre mixed-use village, Keigwin said.

Nonetheless, the bill aims to make horse racing a viable business in California, even if it’s just in the meantime.

Some community groups, like Save Bay Meadows and Friends of Bay Meadows, hope the bill may save their beloved venue. But Adam Alberti, spokesman for track owner and developer Bay Meadows Land Company, said the company is committed to its redevelopment plans.

“As horse track owners, we are part of an industry that has been actively trying to find solutions to its bleak long-term economic future,” Alberti said. “We’re going to continue to advocate for solutions to the industry’s issues, but we’ve spent millions of dollars going through a long process to get our development plans approved.”

The Friends group has been in legal proceedings for months, hoping to eventually get the San Mateo County Superior Court’s OK for a November referendum that could reverse the City Council’s unanimous approval of the racetrack’s redevelopment.

AB 2409 will be considered on Tuesday in the Senate Governmental Organization Committee.

tramroop@examiner.com

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