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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Slots and Stuff

- Albany Law School has a great summary of what is and isn’t in the New York State budget, which was miraculously delivered to Governor Pataki on time, as far as racing goes. Notable is what Pataki wanted and did not get.

The Governor gets little of what he requested in his budget for racing He gets continuation of VLT’s at Aqueduct after the NYRA franchise renewal and a .5% regulatory fee to support the Racing and Wagering Board. Otherwise, his proposals for a gaming commission, a NYRA oversight board, significant reforms in racing regulation, a fee payment from whomever wins the NYRA franchise, freestanding VLT’s, and his method for distributing VLT revenues to the racing industry were rejected by the legislature. [Albany Law School]
The rejection of the $250 million fee for the new franchise holder is obviously good news for NYRA, who likely would have had trouble coming up with 10% of that amount, as is the rejection of free-standing VLT parlors, which would have been a disaster for the industry here. Funny that we've heard nary a word from Friends of New York Racing throughout this whole process, nor in regard to proposed increases in the takeout.

In Florida, a Senate committee has come up with its proposal for slots in Broward County, which differs significantly from the one in the House, which is much closer to what Governor Bush would like to see. Most importantly, it includes the real deal – the Las Vegas style slots that most voters thought they were voting for in the first place:
"The constitutional amendment clearly says they were voting on slot machines," said [Republican Committee chairman Dennis] Jones, R-Seminole. "Nowhere did it say bingo or video machines. The governor or House just dreamed that up." [Sun-Sentinal]
That dream has proven to be about as popular as the Governor’s brother, whose approval rating in the latest Gallup poll is by far and away the worst ever for any second-term president in the March following his re-election. The Senate version also contains other features more favorable to the pari-mutuels, such as longer hours of operation and lower tax rates. A list of all the differences is also in the Sun-Sentinal, here.

A Minnesota Senate committee rejected a proposal for an Indian casino in Minn-St.Paul, as well as for a racino at Canterbury Park.

And in an attempt to have enough purse money to conduct their meeting, Suffolk Downs has sadly cancelled the Mass Cap COO Bob O'Malley said that "An important goal for this year is to pursue legislation that will allow us to enhance purses and improve our ability to compete with other racing jurisdictions." [Thoroughbred Times] In other words, it's slots or no more Suffolk Downs.

- Rockport Harbor’s owner now says that the Lexington Stakes, two weeks before the Derby, "appears to be the more likely spot at this time." [Bloodhorse]