Aqueduct Racetrack

Aqueduct Racetrack

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NYRA to Remain Under State Control

An agreement for a year extension was reached by lawmakers.

A final deal was reached June 17 to keep the New York Racing Association under the control of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state for an additional year.

It makes the state oversight period stretch from the original three years envisioned in 2012—when Cuomo pushed through the NYRA takeover—to five years, ending in late 2017.

The agreement comes after Cuomo offered a bill far more restrictive than legislators sought to return NYRA to private hands. His proposal would have reduced revenue-sharing payments to NYRA from the casino at Aqueduct Racetrack, along with giving the governor the ability to choose the board chair and bolster the powers of a NYRA oversight panel run by the state.

Legislators this week passed a bill without the revenue-sharing cut. It also provided Cuomo with fewer seats on a new NYRA board. They said the legislature was going to send Cuomo the measure and let him decide whether to veto it or not.

"This agreement preserves the valuable public window into the operation of racing and wagering at New York's premiere racing facilities, and into the use of statutory racing support payments,'' Cuomo said in a written statement he released Friday with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.

NYRA backers, including Thoroughbred and community officials from Saratoga Springs, had pressed for the straight, one-year extender of the state's control, rather than see Cuomo's proposal adopted. At risk, they said, was at least $14 million a year in revenue for NYRA from the Aqueduct casino, money they said was part of a deal when NYRA relinquished its land claims to the state for the three tracks it operates.

The state's control period will now run until October 18, 2017.

Dead at the state Capitol, meanwhile, was a plan to permit online poker gambling. Racetrack-based casinos, including Aqueduct, were proposed as the licensees for the expanded gambling.

A bill to legalize daily fantasy sports in New York passed the Assembly and is currently pending before the Senate. Some track-based casinos have opposed the measure, saying they should be given access to the licenses to offer the contests.

"We have the votes to pass it,'' said Sen. John Bonacic, the bill's sponsor.