New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to eliminate the state’s chief racing industry regulatory body and merge it with an agency that now runs the state’s lottery and racetrack VLT programs.
The plan, contained in Cuomo’s 2012 budget proposal released Jan. 17, would merge the state Racing and Wagering Board with the state Lottery Division into the New York State Gaming Commission.
The idea comes as Cuomo is also pushing a change in the state constitution to expand casino gambling on non-Indian lands -- an effort he says would be worth “a relatively conservative estimate’’ of $1 billion.
The governor, who has called for a top-down examination of the racing and gambling industry in New York, also proposed creating a new “independent’’ Office of Racing Development and Promotion to assume the operational functions of three existing funds: the state Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund, the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund, and the state Quarter Horse Breeding and Development Fund.
The budget would also cut the number of state government workers assigned to oversight work at harness tracks.
“The gaming industries constitute a vital sector of New York’s overall economy and their continued growth would contribute to the economic development and job creation in New York state,’’ states a legislative memo by the administration in promoting the merger of the racing board and lottery agency and the new breeding fund program.
“At present, there is not overall coordination of gaming policy and regulation. Regulation of gaming must be conducted in the most efficient, transparent, and effective manner possible,’’ the memo states.
“Consolidation of various regulatory functions into a single oversight body with broad powers would increase efficiency, reduce costs, and eliminate unnecessary regulation redundancies,’’ it adds.
The administration says it is seeking a “robust’’ regulatory structure to better ensure gambling is conducted with the “highest integrity, credibility, and quality.’’
The plan, if approved by the legislature, would take effect May 1.
The racing board regulates the horse racing industry, as well as gambling by charitable organizations, off-track betting corporations, and Indian-owned casinos. The state lottery division, besides overseeing the state’s lottery games, regulates the VLT casinos operating at New York’s racetracks.
The new commission would be composed of five members, who would serve at the pleasure of the governor. The commission would have broad investigatory powers over the gambling industry, including the right to “monitor’’ the activities of anyone or any entity involved in gambling. People involved in any aspect of the gambling industry during the previous three years would be banned from serving as a commission board member, the legislation states, and there would be a ban on revolving door employment within the industry for four years by departing commission members or officers of the agency.
Any rules or orders in effect by the two agencies would continue with the merged entity.