Bruno Believes NYRA Will Get $19M Soon

The New York legislature's top Republican believes the New York Racing Association will soon get the remaining $19-million state bailout to keep it from seeking bankruptcy protection.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, who represents the Saratoga Springs area, said Oct. 16 he discussed the funding matter with Gov. George Pataki and other state officials. "I believe those dollars will flow," Bruno told reporters at the Capitol.

The state thus far has released $11 million that was approved earlier this year for NYRA to help it meet a cash-flow crisis. But a state panel overseeing NYRA's finances has refused to release the remaining $19 million because of questions remaining over a yet-to-be-approved contract between NYRA and MGM Mirage for a new video lottery terminal casino at Aqueduct.

"It's the oversight committee's responsibility to now get the cash out the door," Bruno said.

NYRA officials have been threatening to go to bankruptcy court because, they maintain, a cash-flow crisis is looming without the additional $19 million from the state. Bankruptcy would add further uncertainty to the process already under way to award a new franchise holder for the rights to operate Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga racetracks; NYRA is one of four bidders.

Scott Reif, a spokesman for the panel overseeing NYRA's finances, declined comment on Bruno's claim about the money being released soon.

Bruno said bankruptcy must be avoided in order to ensure racing continues at NYRA. "There's no reason on this earth for NYRA to go bankrupt," he said.