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Monday, April 30, 2007

Governor Seems Behind the Times

- Thanks much to the reader who called attention to Gov Spitzer's comments on the racing franchise in the Troy Record this past weekend; and no, I had not seen this before. The reader notes: Nice to see the "leadership" at the top. He apparently has no idea what the ad hoc committee or his own group have done..

"The first step is to figure out what we want and then open it up to the interested parties and ask 'what will you pay for it?' " [Spitzer] told The Record Editorial Board. "The right questions should be what the structure is - what is the relationship among not only the three tracks but among OTB, VLTs and entertainment. There are a couple issues that have to be thought through before we say 'send us an RFP.'" [Troy Record]
Send us an RFP? For one thing, isn't it the other way around? And besides, haven't we already gone through these steps? What is he talking about? Have I stumbled across another outdated interview and presented it as news? This could be a quote from George Pataki three years ago. Wouldn't you think that if the governor has an appointment with a reporter on his schedule, that his aides would brief him to an extent at which it would seem as if he has at least a basic grasp on the subject matter?
"Look at how they responded and you can say they responded to different models," he said. "What we need to do is figure out what we think the right model is and they say OK, now tell us what you are willing to do."

Spitzer also said there are people who "asked legitimate questions about the need for two downstate tracks." Who said that? Tom Suozzi? Certainly not any of the four bidders that have proposed to build racinos at Aqueduct, that's for sure. I was just the other day thinking gratefully about the fact that you don't hear talk of closing the Big A anymore. On the contrary; it is of course at Aqueduct where the damn racino is supposed to be built, and it's not even legal at this point for one to be located at Belmont. I wonder if the governor even knows that?

Spitzer also told the Record that the land issue is in bankruptcy court and while he could not say much about the case he did tell Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to "win the case." I imagine that there is much going on behind the scenes of the case. It's no wonder that NYRA's dates in court (and approval of the racino) keep getting postponed due to ongoing negotiations. It sounds from that comment that the state is looking to put the issue behind them once and for all. Why NYRA would give in at this point for anything less than a meaningful extension of the franchise, I can't really imagine. What does NYRA really care at this point in time about a racino for whose opening they might very well not be in existence for?


horsecharles said...

Wynn & Spitzer have seemingly just made Duh! comments-- however, since there is one common denominator in both-- this leads me to not believe they are both so seemingly clueless... ergo one of a couple of things are in play:

1. There've been agreeable back room discussions(at least between both staffs)...or at least, Wynn was tailoring his message to something uttered by Spitzer or his aides.
2. Hoping to squeeze more $$$-- so:
A. a re-bid / adjustment offering more $$$ might be hoped for.
B. Maybe even a higher bid from someone new would be accepted / hoped for... despite this late in the game.

Presidential-aspirant Spitzer has seen what Schwarzenegger has accomplished-- so ideally he wants to top that: get the most money possible from nyra & otb, casino compacts, etc.

He would love to package together nyra & otb to fetch the most $$; and since he has higher political aspirations, he is looking to not only burnish his resume, but looking into the future-- avoid at all costs selecting anyone that could fail / be pressed for funds in case of any eventualities.

How can he get the necessary support on board to package Otb w/ racing franchise?
The worse otb looks- may further this:
look for Otb web bet approval to be strung out indefitely(maybe 'irregularities found', criticism of subpar financials, etc.)with possibly the racing franchise award decision postponed(at the last minute) as well-- at least 'publicly / officially'.

Rating the bidders:

Wynn's got to be a slam dunk-- #1 everywhere he's been: LV / Macau & very importantly in our backyard NJ, has access to practically unlimited funds...

NYRA is an auto-elimination.

The Australians ditto: as foreigners they're likely seen as less knowledgeable of local market / not quite major league prospects(they may be be negatively associated / compared with the most prominent foreigner here Ladbroke), and as well more difficult to keep under a tight rein.

CDSN downward financials don't inspire confidence--that group's pitch will only serve to help sway politicos to make a combo taco of nyra & otb.

Anonymous said...

The lack of awareness demonstrated by Spitzer in his remarks is just another reason why the whole process has me despairing for the future of NY racing. The franchise will be awarded by people with little or no interest in or understanding of racing. But then, I guess that doesn't really matter, does it? Because this is, after all, really an auction of the slots franchise. I look at it this way: the slots are the beautiful, talented, brilliant, sexy woman they're all lusting after; the racing is the woman's ten year old child from a previous marriage. An inconvenience they're not thrilled about having to share the house with, but a non-negotiable part of the package. Why are the for-profit companies going to sink time and resources into maintaining or improving the unprofitable racing product, when all that juicy slots profit is sitting there for the taking. Money may not grow on trees, but slots is about as close as you can get. Why siphon off that easy money for racing? Sure, they may whisper sweet nothings now (hey, helmet cams are the future, they'll be lining up twenty deep in the paddock to get Norberto Arroyo's autograph!), but they'll be under pressure from both their shareholders and the state to maximize profits - and I doubt they'll see the racing product as anything other than an impediment towards that goal.

Anonymous said...

To Horsecharles: You had me at Duh! After that, you lost me. I believe Alan's assessment is closer to reality - Spitzer was spouting off before talking with Rifkin.

There is absolutely no way, despite Jerry Bailey's best efforts, that Mr. Wynn & Co. will play in NY.

The last slam dunk I heard about was George Tenet's reference to our success in Iraq. Nothing in this "process" will be easy but I'm going to (naively) hold out hope that the best interests of racing will be served when all is said and done.

horsecharles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
horsecharles said...

Late Scratch:

Spitzer thinks very little of Nyra, it doesn't have money & others have offered $$$ upfront.

No way foreigners, lower-tier at that, get this.

Of the remaining two, only one is really up to running possibly the finest racing in the world.

I don't even see this as a close contest.

Kind Regards.