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Monday, March 29

NYC OTB set to close shop while local legislators encourage action to save New York racing

Saratoga County Supervisor Joanne Yepsen (Saratoga Springs) forwarded me a letter she asking residents to sign and send to Albany politicians in support of the racing community in New York.

In her cover letter to residents she says, "We are losing revenue, losing breeders and horsemen whi are getting better offers, losing the competitive edge in the racing world we have all taken for granted for too long, and now the potential of losing farms/43,000 acres of green space, thousands of jobs and racing as we know it in Saratoga and New York State."

Here is the text of the letter:

March 23, 2010

Dear Representative:

I’m a stakeholder who is economically dependent on the success of the Thoroughbred industry in New York State.

I am extremely concerned about the continuing delays to install video lottery terminals (VLTs) at Aqueduct Race Track. This legacy of failed decision making is costing New York State $1 million a day, forcing taxpayers to pick up the difference in funding state programs. Tragically, this nine-year delay has cost $2.5 billion in revenue to New York State, all at a time when our deficit and unemployment rate are growing.

The Thoroughbred industry is an economic engine for the State of New York in terms of revenue and employment, with over 400 farms occupying 43,000 acres of green space, while contributing some $2.4 billion dollars to the state’s GDP. The industry employs over 35,000 citizens across fifty different counties in New York. The ripple effect from the state’s Thoroughbred industry is impressive and many other businesses have become dependent upon the annual racing and breeding season. This cascading effect touches property values, tourism, retail, hospitality, restaurants as well as general products and services. Furthermore, the State and local government collect over $120 million in excise taxes per year thanks to the activities of the Thoroughbred industry.

Despite this all, the Thoroughbred industry is at risk of exile because of the lack of decision making and expeditious action by State Government. In addition to being in default on VLT revenue at Aqueduct, State owned New York City Off-Track-Betting Corporation (NYCOTB), continues in bankruptcy owing millions of dollars to the industry. State Government has yet to reorganize NYCOTB to be a streamlined, non-competitive, reputable business for the Thoroughbred industry and state and local government.

At the same time our State is failing the Thoroughbred industry and citizens of New York, our surrounding states and government are supporting the industry’s future. Pennsylvania now has a breeding program 36% larger than New York, due to VLT revenue. New Jersey will now have racing at Monmouth Park, supplying $1 million dollars a day in purse money for the industry. Furthermore, Canada, through VLT revenue now offers double the purses and breeding incentives than New York. Because of these competitive pressures, lucrative incentives and higher purses, farms, breeders, owners and horsemen are departing to other states who have acted in support of the Thoroughbred industry.

Due to the significant financial crisis of the state, the critical need for education funding, and the enhanced support of the Thoroughbred industry in New York, I ask that the Governor and legislature make the selection of an operator for VLTs at Aqueduct a priority and allow for expedited review, decision and execution of an agreement.

New York doesn’t need to lose any more money or business and New Yorkers’ deserve what was intended for them in 2001. Please make Aqueduct VLTs a priority.



Here are the suggested recipients of the letter:

Governor David A. Paterson
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

New York State Senate Leader
Senator John L. Sampson
409 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Tel: (518) 455-2788
Fax: (518) 426-6806

Senator Eric Adams
Chair, Senate Racing Committee
Legislative Office Building, Room 915
Albany, New York 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2431
Fax: (518) 426-6856

New York State Assembly Speaker
Assemblyman Sheldon Silver
Legislative Office Building 932
Albany, NY 12248

Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow
Chair, Assembly Racing Committee
Legislative Office Building 845
Albany, NY 12248

The letter request comes shortly before New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. announced they will cease operations on April 11. NYC OTB filed for bankruptcy in September after falling five months and $15 million behind in statutory payments to the New York Racing Association.

This week NYRA announced it would layoff 12 employees, and recently NYRA officials and local industry advisors said that if NYC OTB closed "all bets were off" for a bright future for horse racing in Saratoga Springs.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will NY politicians, OTB kill racing?
By Bill Finley
Special to

March 29, 2010 at 4:54 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So who's got the plan?

Simply putting in the VLTs isn't the answer.

Is anyone home?

March 31, 2010 at 4:40 PM 

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