The Assembly's backing of the higher regulatory fee on pari-mutuel wagers makes it almost certain a final state budget would include the hike. The governor has proposed raising the fee from .39% to .50% on all bets to defray the costs of running the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.The Assembly said there would be a hike in the takeout rate on NYRA wagers. The takeout on win, place, and show bets would go from 14% to 15.5%, while the rate on exotics would rise from 17.5% to 19% on NYRA races.The Assembly also rejected Pataki's plan to place administration of Thoroughbred breeding funds into the state's Agriculture and Markets agency.The Republican-led state Senate, meanwhile, has joined with the Assembly in rejecting Pataki's bid to locate eight more VLT parlors around the state. A Senate budget bill also accepts the governor's hike in regulatory fees paid by the tracks and OTBs to fund the state's costs for overseeing the industry. Unlike the Assembly, the Senate embraces the governor's plan for a new agency to regulate all aspects of gambling in the state, as well as a independent board to monitor NYRA.
The Senate is also poised to pass, according to sources, two different measures to spur VLT programs at racetracks. Besides the measure that would pay purses and breeding funds out of the state's general fund, industry officials are pressing for passage of a competing bill that would increase VLT shares to racetracks to about 40 percent, from which tracks would then be responsible for cutting deals with horsemen for a share of the VLT revenues for purses. Observers believe the sides are close to a VLT deal and that the Senate's passage of the two bills could prod talks along further. One source said a lobbyist on Tuesday during a conference call said he had assurances from the Assembly that its leadership is possibly willing to back the Senate bill that pushes the VLT splits for tracks to 40 percent. Both pending Senate bills would give assurances to MGM Mirage, NYRA's VLT partner, that it would be permitted to remain at Aqueduct as the VLT operator even if NYRA loses its franchise at the end of its current term on December 31, 2007; MGM has been unwilling to invest more than $100 million for the VLT plan unless it can be assured it remains as the Aqueduct operator no matter who holds the franchise beginning in 2008.