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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Notes - Nov 21

- A federal bankruptcy judge dismissed a motion by a creditors to vacate NYRA's reorganization plan.

In its motion, Plainfield [Special Situations Master Fund Limited] argued that NYRA's reorganization plan was "completely illusory" because of its reliance on legislative approval. The attorneys maintained that because the plan is opposed by Bruno, NYRA's franchise would not be renewed. [Daily Racing Form]
I imagine that's a novel point for bankruptcy court, if an honest assessment of politics in Albany. But one can be a lonely number when there are three men in the room, and I think ol' Joe is going to find himself in the position of potentially being "the man who stopped racing." So I still believe he'll back down.

James Odato reported in the Albany Times-Union earlier on Tuesday that Bruno and Spitzer aides....have discussed compromises that include allowing NYRA to continue running the tracks, citing "people briefed about the discussions."
The parties also have discussed more legislative appointees on the NYRA board, greater oversight and stricter performance reviews.
I believe that the eventual settlement will be along these lines, and that they'll be plenty of appointments for Joe. I don't think he's in any danger of losing his box seats at Saratoga either.

- Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio has asked the state Supreme Court to kill the gambling compact agreed to by Governor Crist and the Seminole tribe. Rubio claims that it was unconstitutional for Crist to cut the legislature out of the process.
Rubio's petition also noted the compact allows blackjack and baccarat games on Indian land, even though they are illegal everywhere else in the state. Under the agreement, if the state allows competing Broward County racetracks to host blackjack and baccarat, or, if it approves slot machines outside of South Florida, the Seminoles no longer have to pay.

"The Compact overrides existing laws, raises revenue, and comprehensively regulates gaming by the Seminole Tribe. It is unmistakably legislative in nature.." [Sun-Sentinal]
According to the Miami Herald, the House has some precedent on its side.
At least five other states have filed similar lawsuits against governors that entered into compacts with Indian tribes without legislative approval. In every case, the legislatures prevailed when the courts concluded that the expansion of gambling is a policymaking decision restricted to lawmakers, not governors.
The pari-mutuels in Broward County, and in Miami-Dade, where voters will decide on slots on Jan 29, are certainly watching with interest. There has been speculation that they will themselves sue to stop the compact. With some (as in, Gulfstream) already struggling mightily with their slots, the thought of the Seminoles having Class III machines and paying far lower taxes than the 50% rate applied to the tracks can not be encouraging. Whatsmore, the agreement would in effect bar the tracks from ever having blackjack or baccarat.
Under the agreement, if the state allows competing Broward County racetracks to host blackjack and baccarat, or, if it approves slot machines outside of South Florida, the Seminoles no longer have to pay.

6 Comments:

Anonymous said...

Would anyone even notice that racing stopped until late March?

Seriously.

alan said...

>>Would anyone even notice that racing stopped until late March?

Seriously.


The accountants in Albany would, and the horsemen who depend on the activity would have to make other plans. But the thing is that most people would probably agree that an annual hiatus from winter racing here would be a net positive.

Michael said...

I often think the same think about Ky racing... I think if Turfway were closed in Dec and Jan that there would be a net positive for everyone but the horsemen... but really, aren't there enough other nearby tracks at that level open for options?

jk said...

You can file this under "gadfly".

"Plainfield Special Situations Master Fund is wholly owned by the investment firm of Plainfield Asset Management, which is a partner in Capital Play Pty, one of the companies trying to take over the franchise. The company, initially set up by Australian bookmakers, purchased a $1,495 debt held by Wyoming Downs against NYRA in order to bring its petition to the court."

Anonymous said...

Alan, I concur, some kind of deal will be made to operate racing after Jan 1, until the franchise issue is settled. I also agree that Joe Bruno will be right there at the table when the deal goes down- he has a lot of voters in his district who luuuuvvvvv the Spa and any threat to continuous operation at the Big A will also be seen upstate as a threat that could spread to Saratoga. My guess is that his incoming phone lines have been very busy these past few weeks, filled with lots of constituents and others with a stake in the NY racing industry. My prediction? There will be an announcement soon. /S/Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

It's rumored around the backstretch Getnick has found some more stealing from NYRA by management. Supposedly goods were recovered. Let's see how transparent they are with this.It is also rumored the "alleged" is living in a NYRA owned house adjacent to track property. Will he get a slap on the wrist?...or a promotion!