New VLT Legislation Introduced in New York

Horsemen and breeders have turned to New York legislators to resolve a dispute over video lottery terminal revenue-sharing arrangements with racetracks.

Though the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association recently indicated it had reached a tentative agreement with the New York Racing Association over the VLT issue, the deal could be in trouble if introduction of new legislation is any indication.

With NYRA close to beginning construction of a VLT parlor at Aqueduct, measures introduced in the state Senate and Assembly would require NYRA to fund purses and breeding development with VLT revenue under formulas mandated under the original VLT law.

A mid-level appeals court last year struck down that revenue-sharing plan and said it was illegal to divert VLT to funds for purses and breed development. This year, the state Court of Appeals reversed that ruling.

In the meantime, however, the legislature had approved a new VLT law that put racetracks in the powerful position of negotiating with horsemen and breed associations for VLT splits. That move angered some horse owners and breeders who said legislators were leaving them at the mercy of track operators.

NYRA subsequently insisted it was seeking a contract with horsemen for a fair VLT split, but then cautioned construction costs for the VLT parlor had soared and that future, expected VLT purse hikes would have to be delayed.

The latest measure would mandate specific VLT revenue splits for purses and breed development on a sliding scale that would rise over a number of years based on the VLT revenue brought in by each track.