Friday, 18 May 2012
: The New York Governor has joined the chorus condemning the New York Racing Association as its exclusive franchise to operate the state's major thoroughbred tracks remains in jeopardy.
“It doesn't have the public trust and it hasn't earned the public trust either," said Governor Andrew Cuomo.
"There's no doubt that NYRA has been a long-troubled agency," referring to decades of problems stretching back to when his father Mario Cuomo was Governor.
“The NYRA has had significant issues for many, many years."
He said NYRA's lack of “public trust" is “what we have to change" and addedthat its business “could" be an important economic engine for the state.
The NYRA is in trouble following revelations that officials may have covered up a higher-than-permitted takeout level on exotic bets, costing bettors more than $8.5 million in dividends.
On May 15, in a scathing letter a top fiscal adviser to Cuomo and his state racing board chairman threatened the possible end of the NYRA because of the takeout scandal and the subsequent handling of the matter.
Regulators are upset the NYRA moved quickly to replace its president Charles Hayward with chief operating officer Ellen McClain.
They noted the moves were made while investigations by both the racing and wagering board and the state Inspector General's office were continuing into which NYRA executives or board members may have known the takeout levels were illegally boosted for 15 months after the expiration of a state law governing the rates.
Possible changes include changing the composition of the NYRA board to put state-selected individuals in charge of the racing group.
Also discussed is possibly ending NYRA's exclusive franchise to operate Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga racecourses.
State sources say stripping the NYRA of its franchise could throw the whole matter into the courts as many expect the NYRA would challeng any such attempt.
Also in question is the status of the land at the three racetracks. NYRA gave up its claim on the racetrack lands in return for the franchise that expires in 2030.
On May 15 the State had also stopped revenue sharing payments to the NYRA from Genting New York's Aqueduct casino.
The NYRA responded with a statement that included the observation that "the Inspector General's investigation is ongoing and there should not be a rush to judgment until a final report is issued, and due process is provided."