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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Casino Siting Stalled

The question of casino siting (the now-standard nomenclature for the matter of where they are going to be) in New York State (should they be approved by referendum in November and assuming a measure ultimately passes in Albany) will apparently not be included in the budget which is due on April 1 (though negotiations continue).  As you may know, Governor Cuomo wants three casinos, all located upstate, to be selected by a commission that he controls, in a first phase, and a period of exclusivity before any would be built in New York City.  But the legislature wants more input and has other ideas about location.

There was a thought that Cuomo would use his executive power to ram his plan though via the budget extender, the maneuver pioneered by David Paterson - the legacy achievement of the accidental governor other than his accidental selection of Genting.  But Cuomo conceded that he could not do so, since it is not strictly a spending measure.

   “Casinos is complicated. Some issues are basically binary — no possibility of agreement, its not in,” Cuomo said.

He said the use of extenders would “suggest a hostile working relationship with the Legislature. “If you need to have a hostile relationship, I would suggest you don’t have a hostile relationship." [Capitol Confidential
One might also say, in similar classic Cuomo-speak, that if you need to have casinos to balance your budget, I would suggest you don't have casinos.  But that's a matter to be decided by the voters; and, specifically, as we mentioned recently, quite likely by the voters in NYC.  A bill will pass before the 2013 session is over; Cuomo concedes that that agreement may not come until June.  That will trigger a mad flurry of interested parties aligning on whatever side of the issue best suits them for the November vote.  The New York Gaming Association (NYGA) continues to issue press releases extolling their success (without acknowledging that Genting's Resorts World is largely responsible for the growth).  But I can't imagine that the nine NY state racinos that make up that organization will all be on the same side should, for example, a casino be sited for Genting but not for Yonkers nor the others.

 - Wasn't long ago that Belmont was a center of speculation as a casino site.  But now, the question is how big of a soccer stadium will be built, as part of a 28-acre retail and recreation center.  [Newsday, subscription only] The Cosmos are proposing a 25,000 stadium, while a competing group wants to build a 2-3,000 seat facility for high school and youth leagues.

 - In an open letter to harness horsemen at the Meadowlands (h/t View from the Racetrack Grandstand), track operator Jeff Gural extols his success there thus far (33% increase in handle; 13 $3M handle days as opposed to just two all of last year); and makes a naked appeal for support in the face of openings of meets at tracks with slots-fueled purses.

Since both these tracks, as well as Yonkers, derive the majority of their purse money from casino gambling they often have purses equal or better than ours and most people think it is easier to win at those tracks as long as you do not draw too many eight or nine holes.   I understand all that but the Meadowlands cannot survive without having full fields and competitive races. The last two months have shown that the product is extremely popular with the people who wager on standardbred racing.In fact, on a typical Saturday night 40% of all the money bet at US tracks is wagered on our product. 
To be blunt, I need the industry to step up and support the Meadowlands which may not be the best business decision for everyone in the short term but, in my opinion, the industry needs a healthy Meadowlands and we deserve the support of the industry. 
Gural has used a combination of bludgeon and begging to get to this point, appealing to horsemen's sense of duty to what has been the jewel track of the harness racing industry, and their competitive spirit to get drivers to be more aggressive; while hiring private investigators and summarily ejecting horsemen he deems to be of questionable integrity.  I get the feeling that if he was the operator of the NYRA tracks, we wouldn't see jockeys holding their horses back off the pace as Dominguez cruises to the half in 51 and 3.

1 Comment:

Figless said...

Do they mention the parking plans for this development?