New York Budget Plan Suggests Racino Competition

New York would add three additional casinos featuring video lottery terminals, which would be permitted to locate near the New York Racing Association's future Aqueduct racino, Gov. George Pataki proposed Jan. 17.

The budget plan, as expected, includes a $20-million loan for NYRA that would be paid back from future revenue NYRA will bring in when its racino begins operations sometime next year.

NYRA officials had been pressing to get the bailout included in a non-budget bill to try to speed up flow of the money; the state budget won't be adopted until the end of March at the earliest, and NYRA officials said the $6 million they've recently gotten from the state--in the form of loans and cash advances on a proposed real estate sale of parcels of land around Aqueduct--will run out before then.

The governor's VLT plan would permit any entity--not just racetracks--to submit a bid to the state for a gaming parlor. A year ago, the Republican governor, eyeing a potential White House run in 2008, called for eight new VLT casinos, with not more than five being located in New York City. That plan was rejected by the legislature.

The governor, though, unveiled a 2006 state budget plan that envisions revenue from additional VLT casinos going to assist public schools. The plan would permit the casinos to be built anywhere in the state, though they couldn't be located within a 15-mile radius around existing racinos. That geographic restriction, though, is lifted for New York City, which means the casinos could be placed within 15 miles of both Aqueduct and Yonkers Raceway, a harness track being rebuilt to accommodate VLTs.

The proposal envisions the three casinos opening in two years.