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N.Y. Lawmakers move to improve tracks’ share of slots

May 6, 2003 5:36 AM

The recently announced relationship between the New York Racing Association (NYRA) and MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG) may become a reality sooner than expected now that the N.Y. lawmakers are taking a more realistic approach to the racino law.

Originally, the law passed a year and one-half ago provided the tracks installing video slot machines on their properties with about 12.5% of the revenue, a figure the tracks noted was insufficient to motivate the tracks to come up with the funding for the new enterprise. The tracks started lobbying for a 30% cut of the slots revenues.

Last week, a compromise was hashed out that will provide the tracks, purses and breeders with a total of 29% of the revenues for the first 10 years of operation. The tracks will get to hold 20.25% for the first three years with 7.5% being applied to the purse account and the breeders sharing with a 1.25% portion.

Unfortunately, the proposal, being incorporated into the state budget being prepared by state legislators, is strongly opposed by Gov. George Pataki. The governor is on record as being prepared to veto the bill if it is passed in its current form.

Supporters of the budget legislation believe they have the votes to override a gubernatorial veto.

A spokesman for the horse breeders association said the revised split in slots revenue was a result of a collaborative effort on behalf of the tracks, horsemen and breeders. Said Dennis Brida, executive director of the N.Y. Thoroughbred Breeders, "You won’t see anyone kicking on this split."

Still, NYRA’s chairman, Barry Schwartz was reluctant to jump on board immediately. He was quoted as saying that despite some of the good things in the bill there were other provisions that he would not support.

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