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Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Jersey Tracks Have Hesitation Blues

- Purse subsidies for New Jersey racetracks have not yet come to fruition, and Freehold Raceway is slashing purses for the second time.

Freehold issued a statement on Tuesday that said: "No deal has been reached as of yet for a new purse supplement. We have been overpaying purses by over $100,000 per week. With the current purse schedule, we would be in an overpayment situation in another week. This will be the new purse schedule until a new agreement is reached."

The schedule has a top purse of $9,100, compared with the previous top of $14,000. The bottom class, which had been carrying a $2,500 purse, would drop to a purse value of $2,000, a level [trainer Paul] Wojtowicz said has not been seen "in many years." [Asbury Park Press]
The supplement that the tracks were getting from Atlantic City casinos since 2004 expired at the end of last year. Governor Corzine favors a new package, and indicated last October that an agreement was near in which the government would share the cost with an increasingly reticent casino industry, which has succeeded in blocking VLT's at the tracks. But that agreement is still pending.

The Meadowlands may be next to cut purses should help not arrive, and check out these possible reductions - they're quite dramatic!
Without a purse supplement, the Meadowlands’ nightly purse distribution would drop from the current average level of $220,000 per program down to $90,000 nightly. [US Trotting Association]
- An anonymous reader writes:
Why doesn't NTRA have one central replay archive(like Calracing)for all the racetracks In the US, at no-fee.
Yeah, why not!?! In fact, shoudn't there be a national racing channel produced by the industry like the NFL Network, or, especially, the absolutely awesome NHL Network? does, by the way, have a fine video archive of stakes races, so a comprehensive library seems a natural next step.

Thanks to reader Bit Player, who got to the bottom of NY's Oversight Board; we learn that the members were appointed in 2005 for four year terms. So Spitzer is stuck with them for now. (And here's a complete link to the text of the law which created the board.) I suppose that somebody on the committee got around to reading the rules at some point, and realized that the chairperson didn't have to be all-powerful if they didn't want him or her to. Chairman Steven Newman told Matt Hegarty of the Form:
"I don't think it's particularly helpful....I will obviously honor the resolution, but I honestly don't know what we will do if there is an extension and you have a problem with it. So be it." [Daily Racing Form]
But again, I personally don't see the board standing in the way of an extension, and I believe the members did it basically because they had an opportunity to issue a direct rebuke to the governor.

Ernie writes:
If you teach a class in this stuff, I'll be your first student and will even pay extra tuition which can only be used at the Forest Hills OTB.
A memory from grade school which remains quite vivid for me is the time when a science teacher suggested to the class that one explanation for the creation of the universe is that it was always there. I recall that my little mind was pretty flipped out trying to contemplate how something could exist with no beginning; the notion seemed inconceivable, and still does. But I can tell you with the utmost confidence that the Forest Hills OTB has always been right there, at the corner of Queens Blvd and 70th Road. There, since the beginning of time (or before), it has reliably served as a wart on the otherwise upscale Austin Street shopping district. The idea of it closing is as incomprehensible as a universe which has always existed.

We also learn that reader jk is not Jorma Kaukonen. But he is a fan. So rock on indeed.

(That's Cate Blanchett in the role of Jack Casady.)


Anonymous said...

I watched the Oversight Board meeting replay today. There was no direct rebuke of the governor. These folks are just carrying out their fudiciary duty.

And we elected Spitzer as our Governor, not our dictator. Shelly Silver's people along with Joe Bruno's people passed the Ad Hoc law before it was signed by the Governor. There's a reason why people on board get terms -- it's so they can't face retribution for doing their job.

I also remember something I learned in school -- it's called checks and balances.

They are an Oversight Board and they are supposed to be running racing in NYS. Just because Newman has abdicated his authority doesn't mean the others have to blindly follow along.

Looking forward 4 years from now, I wonder if Governor Cuomo's people are going to be complaining about having their hands tied by Eliot Spitzer's legal appointments.

Of course, I keep forgetting: when NYRA's involved we don't care about the law!

I also wonder what Duncker and Hayward think about the Governor's plan to privatize or lease lottery operations? I would think that's a far bigger threat to NYRA than some people on the Oversight Board asking they be kept in the loop.

Alan Mann said...

>>I watched the Oversight Board meeting replay today. There was no direct rebuke of the governor. These folks are just carrying out their [fiduciary] duty.

I think you make fair points. But just because no one at the meeting said 'let's do this to get back at the Governor,' doesn't mean that wasn't the motivation. When George Bush re-nominates a person who has been steadfastly opposed by the Democrats who control Congress, he doesn't come out and say, "I'm doing this as a rebuke to the Democrats." But that's exactly what it is.

And besides, if the Board was so interested in "carrying out their fiduciary duty," why then was it OK for the chairperson to have broad powers when it was Republican Carole Stone?? They voted to give her those powers, but when a Democrat was appointed, they took them away. Nothing but politics, in my humble opinion.

Anonymous said...

The NYRA is no longer the favorite team in Albany. Even Governor Spitzer himself is beginning to see how big a hole there really is in the side of the NYRA boat. There is a lifeboat waiting for the Governor if he so chooses to escape, so we'll see. This franchise award has been quite a process.

Anonymous said...

I made the first comment. Did you watch the meeting? Carole Stone talked about what was different -- year end deadline, holidays etc. The extension they approved was exactly the same stipulation as the last extension, only the the date was changed.

But now newman told them they are likely to be getting a final deal before 2/13 comes and they reasonably asked that they be consulted.

Also, if they had really wanted to thwart Newman, they could have recinded the authorization they gave Stone, but they didn't.

Carole Stone actually knows something about racing, where as Newman is just a rubber stamp for NYRA. Plus, Bruno's appointee Joe Torani is totaly in NYRA's pocket and he voted for the resolution.

As for the poster who says NYRA is no longer favored by Spitzer, that simply not true. Spitzer doesn't care about NYRA or racing, but NYRA is going to the franchisee and I bet the Senate goes along before the 2/13 deadline.

NYRA problem, as I noted before is that Spitzer's new budget is based on getting revenue from non-horse racing gambling that will directly compete with pari-mutuel wagering and VLTs.

NYRAs real problem is that they are going to need another bailout almost as soon as they get this bailout. They lost almost $30 million last year even with massive subsidies from the state. That $75 million bailout won't go far when more than $30 million has to go right out the door to pay their pension obligations. Don't forget that many of NYRA's liabilities are going to be reoccuring.

Your Bush analogy is weak btw. These people - including Newman -- were all apointed according to the law and Carole Stone was asked to stay on when she was replaced as chairman by Spitzer. They could have had another board member, but it's easier to blame George Pataki than it is to take responsibility for your own actions.

Anonymous said...

My version, based on that version, will be available soon on YouTube---if my dog leaves me alone.

I was at the Forest Hills OTB, usually with dad, as often as five days a week for ten straight years.

Alan Mann said...

Anon - No, I did not watch the meeting; thanks for the description, and I guess that I spoke out of line having not seen it. So your point about the board's action is well-taken. Just one minor quibble - my understanding from reading the authorization of the board's formation is that Stone's appointment was for four years, and therefore Spitzer may not have replaced her.

Your point about the fact that 2008's losses are not considered in the rescue package is also a good one, and something we've mentioned here before.

Is your point about the privatization of the lottery that a private company will be more aggressive in marketing their games in competition with racing and slots?

Alan Mann said...

>>My version, based on that version, will be available soon on YouTube---if my dog leaves me alone.

Cool Ernie, let us know. But I bet you don't have Cate Blanchett as your bass player!

Anonymous said...

Carole Stone offered to resign when she was replaced as Chair, and was asked to stay.

And yes, my point is that these new "games" will be direct competition for NYRA's customers, current and projected (VLTs)

Wait til someone decides that virtual horse racing can be played as a lottery game -- Spitzer's spokesperson said they want to go after middle and upperclass customers for the new games.

You should watch the OB meeting when you get a chance. I watched it because it was recommended today by Ben Liebman in his news of the day. The link is at his site at Albany Law School.

Alan Mann said...

Thanks again - this is the link to the Oversight Board meeting if anyone's interested. (Via the Albany Law School site, as mentioned.)

Anonymous said...

not to beat a dead horse here, but I checked your link to see if the quality was as bad as when I watched it earlier and saw (heard) something I missed earlier. It could help explain the resolution.

Newman is in one place (NYC I would guess) and the other 4 members are probably in Albany. This is a video conference that was uplinked to the net.


They don't want to tie his hands -- they just want to see them in the flesh.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet the anon poster that says the Senate goes along by 2/13 that it doesn't. Eventually the Spitzer/Duncker relationship will break down and the Governor will come to his senses. Of course, all the while he being keenly aware of the case being made to implicate him in Troopergate. Bruno and the Senate will not capitulate as long as "issues" remain unresolved, regardless of who sits on the State Oversight Committee. The NYRA still has a long way to go.