A New York coalition has agreed to open up its wallet to fund a quick study of video lottery terminals in an effort to convince state lawmakers and the governor to permit their operation at racetracks. The deal is noteworthy because it includes some factions of the industry, including off-track betting corporations, long opposed to racetrack VLTs.
"The significance is that the OTBs understand that probably in order for them to obtain what they would like, there has to be more money in the industry, and that probably one of the good ways to do that is through this VLT initiative," said Bruce Hamilton, executive secretary of the New York Harness Breeders.
Indeed, the New York Racing Association is the only significant racing group that will not help fund the study, though it has had representatives at meetings of industry groups over the past several months. Proponents excused NYRA's decision, citing a number of other front-burner issues such as NYRA's attempt to purchase New York City Off-Track Betting Corp.
The group at its April meeting also appointed a board of directors, which includes top officials with Finger Lakes, Yonkers Raceway, the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, and Thoroughbred breeders.
The "Coalition to Preserve and Promote Horse Racing and Breeding in New York State" will spend about $50,000 on the study to be conducted by Innovation Group, a Louisiana company that has completed similar VLT studies in other states.
The group expects to have the study completed sometime in May to begin distributing it to state officials before the end of the legislative session, which could drag on well into the summer.