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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Yonkers Racino Is Rocking

- Well, it didn’t take long nor any advertising whatsoever for the racino at Yonkers to become the most profitable one in the state. I don’t even know how people other than you and me even know about it. The track had billed this as a “soft opening,” and has not generated much publicity at all other than their $9 million fine for being a serial polluter. Regardless, here are the figures:

Empire City at Yonkers Raceway, the $240 million casino that opened Oct. 11, netted $3.8 million in the week that ended Oct. 21, according to figures released by the New York Division of Lottery yesterday.

The still-under construction casino, operating with 1,870 machines - a third of its expected capacity - outpaced its nearest rival among state video-gaming facilities by 65 percent last week.

That rival, Saratoga Gaming & Raceway in Saratoga Springs, has 1,331 machines and netted $2.3 million, according to the Lottery. [Journal News]
When you consider that Yonkers will have 5,500 machines by year end, and an eventual total of 7,500, the money involved is just mind-boggling, man! They’re not planning any promotion until more machines arrive. And, let’s see….aren’t I forgetting something?

Oh yeah! Horse racing! November 3 is the latest projection of when the trotters will return to the track once lovingly referred to as Old Hilltop (if you’ve seen it, you know why). I suppose I’ll have to make an appearance to check it out, even if, as I noted previously, the track didn’t take this opportunity to make the track bigger, and thus make the racing more exciting and competitive. So maybe I won't even bother. Did I ever tell you that I watched Richard Nixon’s resignation speech there? A story for another time…

Yonkers will, of course, benefit from the fact that there’s no nearby competition – one would have to drive to Connecticut or Atlantic City for comparable action – as long as there’s no slots at Aqueduct. And that’s a year away at the very least.

The Ad Hoc Committee deciding on the fate of the NY franchise will take a little longer to decide – no announcement is expected before Election Day. And after Eliot Spitzer wins the election for governor on Nov 7, the committee’s decision may well become more irrelevant than it already may be. The Saratogian reports that Spitzer has already expressed dissatisfaction with the Requests for Proposals.
The committee is grading each firm's bid on a weighted scoring system, but Spitzer recently criticized how the request for proposals was written. Each firm's business plan - how they expect to conduct racing -- counts for 50 percent of their grade. Other criteria such as integrity (20 percent) count for less.

Spitzer said integrity should be a prerequisite, not a consideration. [The Saratogian]
I’m wondering if that’s a signal that, given its legal troubles (which were initiated and pursued by Spitzer as Attorney General) and despite the fact they’ve gotten a clean bill of health, NYRA should not expect Spitzer to award them the franchise. I can just see the Republican attack ads when Spitzer is up for re-election:
Eliot Spitzer brought indictments against a corrupt racing association which was guilty of "..blatant criminal conduct," in Spitzer's own words. Yet after he took office, he awarded the same association a 20-year exclusive contract. And that's no surprise. Spitzer was given free admission to horse races at Saratoga in 1999. Eliot Spitzer. Flip-flops on corruption. Sells out New Yorkers for a $2 dollar bet..
The fact is that no matter what this committee comes up with, the decision will likely be made in a closed room with three men – the Governor, Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver, and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. The same way that virtually every other major decision is made in this state.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Future book odds on NY racing franchise:

Empire 1-9
Excelsior 9-1
Capital Play 99-1 (live long shot, does anyone really know who these guys are??)
NYRA - Non-starter, scratched at the gate by Spitzer/Silver.

This is nothing but an under the table eminent domain like land grab by the NY State democratic party.

The Port Authority has long coveted the Big A and will get it the entire parcel.

The Dems get to claim a balanced budget with a one time fix by adding the land to the balance sheet.

Certain select NYTHA members get rich on their investment in Empire and sellout to the politicians.

VLT's and winter racing on Polytrack will be coming to Belmont.

OTB gets anything they want, pehaps even a profit share in the tracks.

Every connected democrat in the state gets a no show job.

The Lottery Commision gets to brag about more money raised for Education.

The alleged guaranteed purse money never finds its way to program.

The thoroughbred industry in the state continues its decline to harness track levels.