New London's Copperwood Grill owner expects little effect from change in horse race betting options

Winners Connecticut OTB has been granted approval from the state Department of Consumer Protection to offer pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing over the Internet to Connecticut residents ages 18 and older.

The approval was granted under Sportech's existing exclusive license with the state to provide pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing, greyhound racing and jai alai in Connecticut and as an enhancement to their telephone betting service.

The online wagering is scheduled to debut in April 2013.

"We've been able to offer wagering by phone, and now we extend that to the next step," said Jennifer Conning, vice president of Sportech Inc. business communications and analysis, based at Sportech's North American headquarters in New Haven.

"It's hard to say at this time what the revenue increase or job increase would be.

"What we're happy about is that the added gambling revenue will contribute to our gambling support, contribute additional revenue support for the state and towns like New Haven, and contribute revenue support paid into programs for problem gambling."

Bill Cornish, owner of the Copperwood Grill in New London, which features off-track betting that generated about $60,000 a year in revenue for the city, said Wednesday he was not aware that online betting was being considered.

But he does not think the change will affect his business.

"There are still people who don't have Internet and, like me, don't know how to use a computer,'' Cornish said. "I'm still going to have guys hanging around betting and having a beer."

When the Winners OTB Internet account wagering service becomes available, it will also offer race information, streaming race video, race results and account services.

Current holders of Winners Connecticut OTB telephone wagering accounts can use their account to bet online once the service is available. New customers can submit an account application online or through customer service.

Additional information can be found at www.mywinners.com.

A report from The New Haven Register was included in this article.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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