Was that a sigh of relief emanating from the New York Racing Association (NYRA) last week when Donald Trump generated ridicule for a full-page ad he took out in New York papers against slot machines at the tracks?
Earlier this year, NYRA officials selected MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG) to operate the video lottery terminals it will install at Aqueduct Racetrack. MGM MIRAGE and Trump were the two finalists among the companies that bid on the slots operation.
Now that he’s not a participant in New York gaming expansion Trump has taken a negative view, using a recent report from N.Y. Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer that was critical of NYRA’s management. Spitzer had charged fraud at the betting windows and among its employees.
Trump, applauded for his hotel operations but not considered among the industry’s top gaming operators, remarked, "To run a legitimate gaming operation you need countless layers of security, flawless technical safeguards and personnel with unquestionable integrity. NYRA has shown that they do not have what it takes. It’s a bad idea. It’s not in the public’s best interest. However, he did not criticize MGM MIRAGE, a company whose reputation for providing security, flawless technical safeguards and personnel with unquestionable integrity.
Some suggested that Trump’s motivation for the advertisement might be that slots competition at Aqueduct might impact his three casinos in Atlantic City.
Ironically, Spitzer followed up the release of his critical report with a personal visit with NYRA’s chairman, Barry Schwartz. Following the meeting, Spitzer said he was convinced that NYRA will now be taking steps to improve the operations of the three tracks it operates.
Spitzer was quoted as saying, "Barry Schwartz is someone whom I trust and I’m sure he will work aggressively to move NYRA in the right direction."