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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

They're Off! In Race for Casinos

With just, as of this very moment, 1 day, 14 hours, 31 minutes, and 08 seconds until its Resort World finally bring VLT's to the Big A, Genting is already working towards the ultimate prize of a full-fledged casino on the site (or maybe somewhere else?). The company is part of the recently-formed New York Gaming Association (NYGA NYGA), a consortium made up of the owners of the state's nine existing racinos. The group held a press conference on Wednesday, during which it extolled the results of a poll which showed that a "strong majority" of New Yorkers support Allowing Enhanced Casino Gaming At Existing Racetrack Casinos.

"New Yorkers support enhanced casino gaming because they understand that residents are currently spending billions of gaming dollars in Connecticut, Atlantic City and elsewhere, and that we can and should take action to keep that money in our state where it can boost our own economy," said NYGA President James D. Featherstonhaugh. [Press Release]
A familiar argument to be sure! Of course, the survey was commissioned by the NYGA, so take it for what it's worth. (Besides the fact that if it was up to the strong support of the public, the highest-earners in the state wouldn't be getting a tax cut at the new year.) These polls can depend on how the questions are worded....and if you look at the slide presentation here, you'll see, for example, this question that was posed to the 702 voters, after they were asked if they approved of casino gambling at the nine tracks.
Would you support or oppose this proposal to allow a broader expansion of casino gambling beyond the nine existing racetrack sites?
A survey commissioned by the Indian tribes might have first asked if you support or oppose casinos run by Indian tribes, and then about a proposal to allow a broader expansion beyond those sites and gotten a similar response favoring them. To be fair, the final question seems balanced, asking if enhanced casinos should be at the nine tracks or at "Indian-run facilities," resulting in a 62-24 plurality for NYGA. However, if that was indeed the last question asked, Indian casinos had already been framed as the "broader expansion" of the games.

In any event and whatever the result and how it was obtained, the poll and the press conference is merely the first PR shot to be fired in what figures to be a protracted battle between and amongst the tracks, the tribes, and private investors like Lou Cappelli for a piece of the casino action. And it's sure to involve some familiar and influential folks in Albany; and in fact, it already has. Featherstonhaugh is a long-time Albany lobbyist himself, and NYGA has enlisted the services of Patricia Lynch & Associates.

The silence you hear in all of this is from the racing side of the racinos and the horsemen themselves. This is a different ballgame then the VLT's, which came into existence in large part to help the racing industry, and with guaranteed shares of the revenue to the sport written into the law. There are presently no such guarantees that a casino amendment will contain any such thing. You may have read Joe Faraldo's testimony on the subject, in which he expressed concern about the racinos trying to maneuver to lower tax rates as some of their electronic games morph into the real thing.....and his fear that the competition from full-fledged casinos will destroy the tracks without any revenue sharing.

Indeed, there's not a word about horse racing in the 15 page slide show linked to above. So, those who were skeptical to start with are surely even more so today.

- Links to free pdf's of Equibase past performances for the Breeders' Cup pre-entries are here. Or you can get the Form's pp's for nine bucks here.


jk said...

The "tax cut" you refer to is simply the end of a temporary income tax increase put in place a few years back on high income earners. It is disingenuous to call it a tax cut and the Governor has said as much.

On a related note, the "temporary" NYRA takeout increase put in place years ago has been allowed to stand and is now permanent. Maybe the Governor will intervene here as well. I am not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

You can get the pps free here.

Alan Mann said...

jk is absolutely right of course, but i don't think I'm out of bounds spinning it as a tax cut either, despite what Governor 1% might think. I imagine that NYRA would spin an end to the "temporary" takeout increase as a takeout cut as well!