Aqueduct video gaming legislation was approved eight years ago.

Aqueduct video gaming legislation was approved eight years ago.

Anne M. Eberhardt

NY Breeders: Expedite Aqueduct VLT Plan

The NYTB believes the long-delayed Aqueduct VLT project should be expedited.

The New York Thoroughbred Breeders, disturbed by a delay in a plan for thousands of video lottery terminals at Aqueduct, called the situation “inexplicable” and said Gov. David Paterson should put the project on “war footing.”

On March 10, Delaware North, which won the bid for the Aqueduct gaming facility, said it couldn’t meet the deadline for a $370-million franchise fee. A Paterson spokesman said the governor could ask the state legislature to seek a new operator.

“Nearly eight years ago, state government approved legislation that would allow video gaming at Aqueduct with the appreciation that it would generate a million dollars a day for the state treasury,” NYTB executive director Jeffrey Cannizzo said in a March 11 statement. “During the eight years of protracted negotiation, New York taxpayers have lost more than $2.5 billion dollars in potential revenue. Now, with Wall Street in meltdown, sales tax revenue at historic lows, and a state deficit of staggering proportions, the continued delay in installing VLT is unfathomable.”

The NYTB said Paterson should put the Aqueduct VLT project on a “war footing” that would allow for expedited review, decision, and execution of an agreement.

“At a time when every decision to cut, slash, and reduce state government is creating harsh debate and recrimination, this opportunity to create a million dollars a day in state revenue should be at the top of Albany’s agenda,” Cannizzo said.

The NYTB cited reports from economists who say the horse racing and breeding industry in New York has an annual impact of $4.8 billion, with related goods and services valued at $2.4 billion.

Delaware North said it plans to pay the franchise fee, but not before the state’s fiscal year ends March 31. The company owns Finger Lakes Gaming & Racing in western New York, and operates VLTs at two New York harness tracks, Buffalo Raceway and Saratoga Gaming & Raceway.

The three New York Racing Association tracks--Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga--are the only tracks in the state without VLTs.