N.Y. lawmakers still must deal with NYRA, slots, dope

Jun 24, 2008 7:03 PM

Industry Insider by Ray Poirier | New York lawmakers were successful in saving the jobs of city Off-Track Betting employees but still face major disputes over a 25-year operating contract for the New York Racing Association (NYRA), the operating contract for the slot machines at Aqueduct, and a new dope testing laboratory.

They are expected to address these problems as they meet this week for the final session of the 2008 legislative year.

Next Monday, NYRA goes before a bankruptcy judge hoping to emerge from Chapter 11. Without approval in Albany, that is unlikely to happen.

Yet, some legislators are not convinced that NYRA needs the so-called "clean up bill" in order to resolve its financial problems. They believe NYRA could come out of bankruptcy without it. But, the bankruptcy judge might not agree.

As for the slots contract, there are only three bidders involved. They are Jeremy Jacobs’ Delaware North Corp., which operates other video lottery terminal casinos in the state; Australian-based Capital Play and its partner, Mohegan Sun, and SL Green Realty Group and its partner, Hard Rock Entertainment owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Getting a decision on one of the bidders has proved a formidable activity. The decision is to be made by Gov. David Paterson, Sen. President Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

As for the laboratory, the proposal comes in the wake of legislative hearings in Washington. Some lawmakers believe the state should build a steroid-testing facility at Cornell University. They site the racing industry’s priority of ridding the sport of steroid use.

Oddly, New York racing rules do not prohibit the use of steroids, although the issue became newsworthy following the recent running of the Belmont Stakes.