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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Bruno Seeking Higher Horsemen Cut

- Want to set the record straight on something I wrote in this post regarding Bruno's position in the franchise negotiations. I criticized the Senate Majority Leader for taking stances which I felt were more self-serving than for the good of the industry, questioning why, for example, he wasn't pressing for a larger cut of slots money for horsemen.

Well, he is. Paul Post, reporting for the Thoroughbred Times website, writes that Bruno says that the plan does not give horsemen a fair share of revenues. The MOU grants horsemen only 6.5% of slots revenue. That's less than any of the present racinos at the state's harness tracks; and pending legislation contains percentages of 8.25% and 8.75% in the Senate and Assembly versions respectively (with a carve-out allowing NYRA to have their own agreement).

I'd like to believe that Bruno is sincerely standing up for the industry against Spitzer and Silver, neither of whom have shown any indication that they care at all. In the comments section to the above referenced post (worth the time, and thanks to all for the well thought-out posts), reader Sarah wrote:

As an old-fashioned "yellow-dog" democrat, I also find myself amazed at having to praise Joe Bruno . . . up to a point . . . for sticking to his guns almost to the end. He understands the issues and, rightly to my mind, has been appalled by the idea that NYRA -- with board more or less intact -- is apparently going to be given a free pass.
I'm just not sure whether Bruno's motivation is as she says, or if he's just looking for some spots to make some political appointments. You could certainly point to the bottom line and hold the board responsible for the state of things as Bruno does; or you could point to the bottom line and give the board credit for a racing program which produced nine or ten (depending on how you look at it) Breeders' Cup winners this year. I'd certainly like to hear more talk from the Senator of consolidating the OTB's, or of demanding a written plan on physical improvements to the downstate tracks.

As for the negotiations, they seem to be going nowhere, as opposed to the more optimistic reports last week, with Belmont slots still a key point of contention between Speaker Silver and the other two. Paul Post sums up: With so many negotiating points to settle, it is highly doubtful whether lawmakers will come to an agreement before NYRA’s temporary extension expires.


Anonymous said...

Bruno is a day late and a dollar short. He is pandering to his constituants who have rightfully raised a stink.

My original thought was nothing would get done and a judge would decide NYRA's fate.

With Bruno's constituants officially on his tail, maybe a deal will finally get done.

As far as the horseman's cut, it sounds heroic to stand up for more money for them. The question is at who's expense?

Most of the VLT/slot parlors in NY are performing poorly. The slot operators say they need a higher cut of the take to promote slots.

Does the Bruno proposal shortchange the new slot machine operator? In theory, there should be plenty of money for horseman and the slot operator. Why, at this late date, has this become a hot button issue?

Maybe a bump up in the horseman's take gets the deal done.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see LATG finally giving Joe Bruno some credit. I just hope it pans out in the end, there's still a ways to go. /S/Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

I've heard rumor that the actual horsemen's cut may be closer to 4% when it's all said and done under the Governor's proposal. Bruno does indeed care about the horse folk, so I'm certain he will make sure they get it in purses or some other improvements that enhance the racing and backside infrastructures, theby making them better off than they were.

On a NYRA note, what is to be made of the fact that according to the DRF, wagering was allowed to continue on Thursday's opener at Aqueduct for approximately 35 seconds after the start of the race due to equipment malfunctions. Isn't this supposed to be the new "squeaky" clean NYRA operating under such strict oversight? A technical mistake, or did someone within the organization just get caught?

Anonymous said...

Silver Speaks Ill of VLTs, Bruno
January 3, 2008 at 12:23 pm by James M. Odato
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told reporters today he continues to dislike the notion of video lottery terminals at Belmont Park and doesn’t understand why supporters of such betting machines have such loftly expectations of revenues from them.
Silver said putting VLTs at Belmont would likely hurt a proposed casino at the Aqueduct track and the one already struggling at Yonkers Raceway, where per-machine revenues are well below expectations.
“People who have sold this idea of VLTts say $400 a day in revenue. It hasn’t happened
anywhere in the state - not at Yonkers . . . Monticello. None of them have broken $200 a day. To put
more machines five minutes from the existing authorization is only going to provide a saturation of machines . . . I really don’t understand, and the case has not
been made to me . … as to why these machines at Belmont are so critical to the operation of the State of New York.”
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno advocated for legislation authorizing VLTs at Nassau County’s Belmont Park. He said the money the state would reap would help afford public education and noted that elected leaders of Nassau County, including Executive Tom Suozzi, a Democrat, wants the machines.
Silver found it remarkable that Bruno was following the advice of Suozzi, but said the senator was twisting the facts because Suozzi is particularly interested in getting a cut of the VLT revenues.
“Is Tom Suozzi his new Roger Stone, his advisor on matters of state government?” Silver asked.
He said Bruno, who has called Silver a wimp and too strongly allied with Gov. Eliot Spitzer, has tended to be wrong on key facts.

Anonymous said...

Joe's right, Suozzi wants the slots but only to fund Nassua coffers, not to help horsemen.

Again, the Breeders and Horsemens will be screwed because of the greed of a few of their elected representatives who backed the wrong horse in the race (Empire, see prior referenced comments).

Horsemen should have a voice at the table and have none other than good old Joe.

Their (our) percentage may end up at half the original rate.

The alleged huge purse increases will be modest at best, especially considering the overly optimistic VLT handle projections.

At whose expense the increase? It is NOT an increase, just a decrease of the decrease.

Who recieved the benefit of the original decrease? They should give that money back to horsemen.

The splits should be as recommended originally in the open process that occurred this summer, not as negotiated behind closed doors in an Albany back room.

Anonymous said...

Re Past-Posting at NYRA.

I heard through the grape-vine that some past-post wagers on Thursday's opener at the Big A were traced to Charlie Hayward's office. Any solid information on this?

Anonymous said...

Let's see how the deal comes out in the end before piling on Joe Bruno any more. Then as the dust settles, let's analyze the outcome: Is it a better deal for the racing industry, and does it give the franchisee a better chance to succeed, before or after Bruno's last cards are played? Isn't that the only yardstick? Alan, of course, being the knowledgable and responsible reporter that he is, gets it, albeit grudgingly! /S/ Green Mtn Punter