Senate Committee to Discuss New York Franchise

The franchise to operate Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga will be front and center Sept. 12 during a meeting of the New York Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering.

Republican Sen. Bill Larkin, who chairs the committee, had scheduled the meeting earlier, but on Sept. 10 announced a short list of invited guests that will speak on the subject. The meeting comes a little more than a week after New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer recommended the franchise remain with the New York Racing Association.

The committee meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. EDT in Albany. Speakers are Bennett Liebman, acting director of the Albany Law School Government Law Center; Paul Bowlinger, executive vice president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International and president of RCI Integrity Services; and Charles Vickery, a racing industry consultant.

According to a release from Larkin’s office, the three men will talk about the “optimal business model” for the three-track franchise and will be offered a chance to discuss Spitzer’s recommendation. The committee also will accept comments on a report on the integrity of the four entities seeking the franchise.

“It is critical that an appropriate business model for the management of the state racing franchise is established so that the bidder with the most far-sighted business plan can be selected to operate the state tracks,” Larkin said in a statement.

Larkin said the optimum model should have six standards: maximize video lottery terminal revenue; support state and local governments; allow the tracks to make a profit; enhance horse racing for the benefit of patrons; expand breeding and agriculture; and foster economic development near the tracks. He also said it’s “critical that the selected bidder should have unquestioned integrity.”

Soon after Spitzer released his recommendation Sept. 4, some legislators weighed in. They suggested the franchise be opened up to allow various companies to operate certain components, be in racing or gaming. Aqueduct has been approved for a VLT casino, and one could be located at Belmont as well.



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