Governor Cuomo confirmed on Susan Arbetter's Capitol Pressroom radio show that he wants new VLT parlors in the event that a casino referendum gets voted down. When the subject turned to gaming in the wide-ranging interview, the governor went on the attack against the racinos.
"These racinos are very well-financed players; they work this system extraordinarily well."In fact, they work the system so well that they pay a tax rate of around 67% that is one of the highest in the country. The governor then rambles on about how the racinos are expecting another gift, to be handed casinos and he's not going to let that happen.
"I think the way we did racinos in the first place was a mistake..."Yes. How so?
"Well because, um, we never came up with any regulated system. A lot of these players are politically connected; a lot of these situations were one-off political deals."Really governor? Again, the system is regulated enough so that the racinos pay an exorbitant enough tax rate to generate amounts, for the state, that dwarf those in lower tax havens like Atlantic City and Connecticut. And, please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the law permitting racinos at racetracks was passed in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks in a desperate attempt to fend off a hit to the economy. I don't believe there were any one-off political deals involved at all, other than the one for Aqueduct a decade or so later on. So I don't think that Cuomo knows what he's talking about here.
When asked about his contentious new gambit to guarantee at least new VLT parlors, he stated the usual 'keep gambling revenues from going to other states' argument. And then he turned on the racinos again.
"The current racinos come back and say 'no no no,' if it fails, that means the people don't want casinos, so the state should do nothing. Well, by that logic Susan [smug snorting laughter], if it fails because the people don't want gaming, then we should close the current racinos. Right? [smug mocking laughter] That's the only logical inference of what they're saying. So their position is 'no no no,' if the referendum fails, don't build any new ones, give us a lifetime franchise with the existing ones. That's not gonna happen."Well, actually, oh Mr. Powerful Governor, we'd be voting on an amendment to the state constitution that would permit Las Vegas-style casinos; not on the fate of the existing video lottery terminals. By his same sarcastic logic, we should then also close the Indian casinos....the same ones which, while blasting racetrack racinos that pay out two-thirds of their revenue, he recently rewarded with territorial exclusivity despite their having illegally withheld payments to state and local governments for years. And why not close the racetracks too, since he can't seem to accept the share of slots revenue they get? Amazing how Cuomo can, in one breath, talk about how politicians should "step aside" in this process, and then, in the next, bring all of his political power to bear in an attempt to subvert the meaning and intent of the referendum and effectively override its result.
Look, I'm obviously no big fan of NYGA and racinos, and not in the habit of defending them in any way. I've written often about the hypocrisy of the racinos' portrayals of their facilities as some hip hot spots where the young and attractive hang out for a howling good time rather than the grim money machines that they are; and their glowing press releases that ignore the detrimental effects of their gambling halls on vulnerable patrons and on the communities around them. And we can be sure that, if they ever did get casinos, they would look to screw the racetracks as much as anyone else. But Cuomo obviously has it in for them; and one can only wonder why.
Well, recall that the governor's "racinos are a scandal" speech last June came just a day prior to the NY Times revealing that NYGA had contributed $2 million to the Committee to Save New York, a pro-business group closely associated with the governor. Given the ferocity and suddenness of Cuomo's remarks - "Showing a surprising hostility toward gaming interests," as Odato reported at the time - I speculated then that his people had gotten wind of the Times story and prompted the remarks as a pre-emptive defense against charges of lobbying influence. (And the Times, to this day, has never reported on Cuomo's remarks that day, undermining the point of their big story as they did.)
So, this is pure speculation on my part and maybe I'm wrong, but perhaps the governor is persisting in his criticism of the racinos purely for his own personal political reasons. Now, when Corey Booker raises the Times article in a Democratic primary debate, Cuomo can respond: "What, are you kidding? I stuck it to the racinos where the sun don't shine." (If not for the fact that I utilized crude profanity just in the last post, I surely would have phrased that last line differently.)
- Some brief racing notes and then I'll let you go. I posted this photo below on Belmont day, saying that it looked more like Father's Day.
So here's a shot from Father's Day from approximately the same spot.
Maximova ($4.70) won a three-year old filly overnight stakes on the card; and man, I really like this filly, now three-for-three lifetime. Don't usually get all ga-ga over young horses unless there's a good reason. This daughter of Danehill Dancer was off slow in her prior race, waited in last with a patient John Lezcano, and showed a will to win when she bulled her way to a seam in midstretch and powered to the win. On Sunday, she encountered a different kind of adversity, forced out of her game and into a stalking trip of an extremely slow pace. Mariel N Kathy, a more experienced filly with an overnight stakes win on her resume, walked to three-quarters in 1:16.21 and proceeded to sprint home from there. 99 times out of 100, the horse in second fails to catch the leader when it comes home off a slow pace as Mariel N Kathy did, in 34.53; final 1/8th in 11.56. But Maximova would not be denied, slinking up the rail and gaming out the win in a relentless display of grit. Quite impressive.
And gotta mention the facile win by Verrazano in the Pegasus at Monmouth. Sure, he glided to an extremely soft opening quarter of 24.82. And of course his life was made easier when Itsmyluckyday was pulled up by Mike Smith. But I always find it noteworthy when a dirt horse runs every split faster than the prior one, as Verrazano did. (For the record, 24.82, 23.93, 23.92, 23.31, final 1/16th in 5.74.) I liked his Wood a lot more than most, and though I soured on him for the Derby, he gets the automatic Derby/sloppy track pass for that effort, and I can definitely see myself getting suckered in on this one down the road.