Timeline for NYRA Tote Operator Delayed

It won't be decided until at least the end of next summer's Saratoga meet.

A move to name a new tote operator at the New York Racing Association was put off until at least the end of next summer's Saratoga meet, a state government oversight panel decided in Albany Nov. 26.

The Franchise Oversight Board, which is now overseeing the finances of what last month became a state-run racing entity with the appointment of a new government-dominated NYRA board, approved a resolution to keep United Tote as NYRA's totalizator contractor. The oversight panel a month ago approved a 30-day extension for United Tote while state officials studied the new proposed contract.

State officials have not identified the new entity NYRA was trying to contract with for tote services, but sources have said The Stronach Group is the company. State officials have expressed a desire to have more time to study the long-term, 10-year deal with a new tote contractor, and decided to put off the decision until next fall.

NYRA president Ellen McClain previously told the franchise oversight panel that United Tote had been notified that it did not win a new contract. This gives United Tote the lucrative NYRA contract with the same terms kept in placefor at least another 10 months.

Word of the contract delay came as McClain told the state board, which was created several years ago to oversee NYRA's finances, saw new income in the third quarter of $24.8 million, up $14.5 million from the same period a year earlier. (The new casino at Aqueduct opened during that period and has been seeing revenues higher than originally estimated.)

NYRA said its net revenue totaled $72.2 million during the quarter with operating expenses of $47.4 million. Of the net racing revenue, $59 million came from the racing side of NYRA's business, an increase of 7% from a year ago.

McClain added that betting was off on the East Coast by 30% in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. She sounded warnings that the storm could affect NYRA's revenue projections for the year. "It's taken some time for bettors to get back into it,'' she said of the storm's aftermath.

The new state-controlled board, put into place this fall by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators, is not expected to hold its first meeting until Dec. 12. Officials have promised to make the board meetings public a break from NYRA's long-held tradition of closed-door sessions. The new government-dominated panel is, by law, set to expire after three years in business.