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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday News and Notes

Let's start with a correction from the last post.  (And if you muddle through all of this, I'll even kick in a bad horse pick at the end.)  I mentioned some aspects of the law that authorizes the casinos in New York that were actually part of an older draft.  This is what actually passed.  So, to be clear....should the Saratoga racino become a casino (or for any existing racino getting a license), VLT payments will be set at the level for 2013, not 2012, subject to annual adjustments based on a particular consumer price index.  As we've said, this does protect the horsemen against the threat of casinos replacing VLT's with table games from which there is no cut for purses.  But it also cuts them out any increases that could result from a racino turning into a "destination" casino.

Additionally, the vague clause about race dates being subject to the whims of the gaming commission was taken out.  And the law provides support for the "licensed racetrack in the region" even if the Capital District casino is awarded elsewhere.  That facility would have to make payments to purses to help maintain those 2013 levels (plus or minus CPI changes) should payments from the spurned racino fall short.  So, that horseman who spoke up at the City Council meeting doesn't have to worry about support for purses.

This situation in Massachusetts is really quite fascinating, and fluid.  Steve Wynn and Mohegan Sun presented their competing proposals for the Boston area license, and it sounds like it was a lively affair.

 Wynn called his proposal Mohegan Sun’s “worst nightmare,” mocked the company’s proposed Suffolk Downs casino for being backed by a hedge fund, and dismissively classed Mohegan’s proposed resort as “three stars.”

Mohegan Sun CEO Mitchell Etess highlighted the Wynn site’s contamination problems and claimed Suffolk Downs’ Revere property will be easier for customers to access. [Boston Herald]
The "contamination problems" stems from the fact that Wynn is proposing to build his casino on a former Monsanto chemical plant.  I know it's silly and undignified to write lol in a post on a sophisticated blog such as this one.  But: lol.

Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle gave an interview to the East Boston Times-Free Press to answer questions about the effect of a casino on East Boston, the neighboring town that thought they had voted the idea of a casino down.  It's a rather cold and totally unapologetic explanation, and amongst the things that are made perfectly clear is this:
"The racing operation is no longer sustainable as currently constituted. The track hasn’t been profitable since 2007 and without the benefit of expanded gaming on the Revere portion of the property, the revenue from leasing the property and the visitors to the area that the resort would bring; it is very unlikely we would be able to continue to race."
 Chip Tuttle is a racing guy and he's fighting on, doing what he has to do to keep the sport going at the storied track there.  I'm certainly not one to judge; I held my nose and advocated for slots here because I wanted racing to continue to thrive in New York.  Now I walk through Resorts World, see what we've done, and I want to piss on the damn things.  It's a rather ingenious scheme to save Suffolk Downs, however devious one may consider it, and it will be quite a feat of survival if they pull it off.  But for the people in East Boston that voted against the casino, they will still have to deal with their concerns over potential problems of traffic, crime and addiction.  In addition, if Boston is designated as a surrounding community rather than a host community (and Tuttle makes it quite clear that he opposes the latter), the payments to deal with any consequences of a casino will be far less.  And East Boston might get some horse stables within its boundaries as a little bonus too.  I think one can understand why some people there are not happy.

Governor Cuomo is in hot water these days over the remarks he made on public radio last week.  If you missed it, this is the contentious passage:
 "Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are "right to life," "pro assault weapon" "anti-gay"? Is that who they are? Because if that's who they are, and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York because that's not who New Yorkers are."
 Well, Cuomo is getting it from near and far, from the state GOP to national-profile conservatives like Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity, who "can't wait" to move out of New York (and we can't wait until he does).

Attempts by the governor's office to argue that the remarks were taken out of context have fallen flat, because that's what he said.  And it doesn't matter these days what you mean, it's what you say.  I have no doubt that what Cuomo's office says is true: that he was really referring to political candidates running for state-wide office - that those who are anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, and against reasonable gun control cannot be elected in this state.  In a state in which Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1, that is no doubt true.  Cuomo touts his ability to work with the "moderate Republicans" who control the Senate.....meaning the ones who kiss his ass just enough to stay in control (with the help of the IDC), and then turn against him when they're able to.

However, as we've seen in the past, the governor doesn't always express himself very well.  Here, he did so rather awfully.  Besides muddling the matter of exactly whom he was referring to, "right to life" is hardly an extreme position; "anti-gay" is (somewhat of) a mis-characterization of those opposed to gay marriage (which will be an extreme position by the end of the decade); "pro-assault weapon" should be considered an extreme position, but it's not here in the gun-loving home of the free and the brave. I think that Cuomo would serve himself well by clarifying his remarks, and, as hard as it may be, a-a-a-apologizing to those he may have offended by his misspeak.  While some will never be satisfied, the whole brouhaha would quickly pass, as the one in the neighboring state goes on.  At least Cuomo wasn't endangering peoples' safety and lives in the name of petty retribution.  (And even if Christie didn't know, which seems highly implausible, he obviously created and encouraged an atmosphere in which his closest aides had free reign to do what they did.)

And besides, the usual political hypocrisy is no doubt at work in the Republican attacks on the governor.  "Love it or leave it" does not have its roots in liberal philosophy as far as I recall.  And I don't remember any Republicans objecting when, at last year's high profile Conservative Political Action Conference, Iowa's firebrand Rep. Steve King declared that liberals should move to Detroit or Chicago....or self-deport.

 - In the 6th at Gulfstream today, the cleverly-named Life in Shambles (4-1), by Broken Vow, out of Life, makes his career debut, on grass, for trainer Christophe Clement.  You may recall the roll that this barn was on at Saratoga with this type; and he's 1-1-2 from six such starters at the GP meet.  Life in Shambles is a half-brother to two others who won their debut in turf routes.  Interestingly, one of them, Thunderous Lady (Thunder Gulch), made that successful debut in a 75K maiden claimer at Gulfstream, the same conditions as this race.  Best of luck and have a great day.