We're going away and therefore scrambling around to get ready, but I gotta take time out to squeeze in a last post to get that really crappy horse pick in the last one off the top spot on the page. So I'll mention the session of the Franchise Oversight Board that was held on Wednesday. The most widely-reported news from the session was NYRA President Charlie Hayward's proposal to install self-service betting machines at selected restaurants; 10 at first, eventually growing to as many as 40 by the third year. That effectively would put NYRA in the OTB business.
“It’s a big deal,” NYRA president Charles Hayward said of the new effort....In year one, officials project the sites will generate $45 million in handle. By year three, the 40 sites would handle $165 million in bets. For the state, NYRA is dangling the prospects of more money in the form of revenue-sharing: nearly $5 million over the three years in state taxes and about $19 million for purses. [Bloodhorse.com]That doesn't seem like all that much money for the state compared to what it reaps from VLT's, and even to the purse money mentioned along with it. Probably what prompted this response from Oversight Board Chairman Robert Megna:
“Is it too much,” he said of projected purse increases. Megna did not elaborate, but told Hayward, “We are always going to be asking you about it because it’s a lot of money.”Actually sounded more like a statement than a question. And that could really be the big storyline buried in the coverage of the meeting: Cuomo's budget director discussing, with a fair amount of skepticism, the allocation of slots revenue, which fits with this whole scenario of questioning the cut of slots money directed to purses - subsidies, if you will - that is currently being played out in Ontario and Pennsylvania (again).
In any event, NYRA's idea would have to win approval in Albany.
“NYRA will be discussing the plan with the administration [of Gov. Andrew Cuomo] and the legislature in Albany with the hope of gaining their support to implement this strategy in the very near future,” [Dan] Silver said. [Daily Racing Form]We know how that goes, and we've recently seen a hostile attitude towards NYRA and racing in general from the governor.
According to the Bloodhorse piece, Megna urged NYRA to devise a strategy for the types of bettors it is trying to attract at the facilities. Huh? Really? This state is making plans to further expand degenerate casino gambling, and this guy is questioning the "types of bettors" at OTB's? That's a hoot.
Additionally, NYRA revealed that it's traced around $500,000 of $1.2 million owed to bettors due to the incorrect takeout charged on some exotics, defended the $92,000 it spends on transporting horses back and forth between downstate tracks ("This is an expense that actually generates revenue....The comptroller doesn’t share that view.” [Saratogian], and derided the comptroller's suggestion that it conduct a study comparing its business practices with the industry nationwide.
“That report would probably cost us $5 million,” he said. “Guess what? We got an ‘F’ on that one, which, frankly, I don’t think is a fair grade.” [Saratogian]That does seem like a really expensive study. Maybe they're pricing it out with Getnick and Getnick. Also discussed was NYRA's ballooning pension costs and efforts to rein them in. And Hayward had to defend the bidding procedure for its hiring of a PR firm from accusations that NYRA had written a "directed contract" for the incumbent public relations and marketing firm in Saratoga Springs, Ed Lewi & Associates. [Schenectady Gazette] All in all, sounds like he had a really fun day.
Anyway, the Head Chef and I are off to have a really fun week, and it's questionable at best whether I'll be posting during that time. If not, best of luck, have a great week and I'll speak to you soon.