Judge Upholds New York's VLT Law

In a case closely watched by the racing industry, a New York judge today upheld legislation permitting racetracks in New York to offer video lottery terminals.

Supreme Court Judge Joseph Teresi said VLTs "are indeed true video lotteries and therefore are a constitutionally permissible lottery game.''

The judge also upheld the state's 2001 gambling law that also permitted up to six Indian-owned casinos in Western New York and the Catskills, as well as entry by the state into a multi-state lottery game.

Cornelius Murray, a lawyer for a coalition of business, religious and civic groups that brought the lawsuit, including the head of the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce, said he will appeal Teresi's decision.

The decision removes a legal obstacle, at least for now, that had been hanging over the racing industry. Racetracks have shied away from starting up the VLT program, mostly because they argued the revenue-sharing program devised for them by the state was inadequate.

But track operators were also nervous about investing capital money in a program that could be rejected in court. Earlier this year, the state, looking to get the VLTs turned on and the revenue stream flowing to the cash-starved state government, increased the VLT money share destined for tracks.

Tracks are beginning to move ahead with the VLT program; at the New York Racing Association, bids have been received for various work at a new VLT parlor, which will hold 4,500 devices, at Aqueduct.

Under the 2001 law, all tracks in New York, except Belmont and Saratoga, are eligible to offer VLTs.