NYRA placed under "temporary public control"

Horse 1.JPGAndrew Cuomo and the legislative leaders announced today that they've agreed to create a "NYRA Reorganization Board" that will place horse racing org under direct state control. From the press release:

The NYRA Reorganization Board will be comprised of a majority of publicly appointed directors, with a Chair nominated by the Governor. The Board will be in effect for 3 years to restructure and reorganize NYRA, following which NYRA will revert back to majority private control. The current NYRA Board will be dissolved. The NYRA Reorganization Board will go into effect when a majority of the new public directors are appointed. Once appointed, the new board will conduct a national search for a new CEO and General Counsel for NYRA.

The short story behind all this: NYRA has been a train wreck.

The racing org was indicted by the feds on fraud and conspiracy charges in 2003, but worked out a deal to escape trial. It filed for bankruptcy in 2006 -- it emerged in 2008 thanks to the state waiving $200 million in debt and giving the org about $100 million for the deeds to race tracks at Saratoga, Belmont, and Aqueduct. It had to be propped up with a $25 million loan from the state in 2010. More recently, it was predicting that it was finally afloat for good (first profit in 11 years -- for an org that makes money from gambling) thanks to an infusion of cash from the Aqueduct racino deal -- but there were concerns NYRA would figure out a way to screw it up again. [BloodHorse] [BloodHorse] [Biz Review] [ESPN] [YNN] [NY Post] [Biz Review]

And then there's the takeout issue. Late last year it came out that that NYRA had been improperly withholding winnings from bettors. NYRA said it had done so as an "unintentional oversight." An investigation by the state's Racing and Wagering Board concluded it was actually the opposite. [TU] [NYT]

It was right about then that Andrew Cuomo apparently was honing his "You have failed me for the last time" speech. [TU]

So, what? Mismanagement, public benefit corporation, the state, blah blah blah -- what's all this matter to most of us? Well, NYRA pretty much is horse racing in New York. It operates the Saratoga Race Course, which is not only a good time for a lot of people in this area, it's also an important economic engine in this region. And it's been seriously broken.

While we're talking about horse racing: The NYT has an ongoing series about "death and disarray" at race tracks around the nation. It's sobering.


Applying more state workers to it won't fix it. It needs to be totally privatized and run like a business.

@Ron - How could a private race track or casino operator possibly work? Can you give me a single example of a private sector success in that market?

What is that you say? There are hundreds of example of profitable non-state race tracks and casinos? Well I'll be a monkey's uncle!

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

This week was brought to you by

This week was brought to you by turkey, stuffing, family, friends and gratitude. Also, by tryptophan hangovers. And of course, it was brought to you... (more)

A quick recap of the week

Here are a few highlights from the past holiday week on AOA: + As is tradition, our annual Thanksgiving charity drawing asked: What are you... (more)

Stuff to do this weekend

Welcome to the holiday season in the Capital Region -- when there are more things to do than you can shake a peppermint stick at.... (more)

Happy Thanksgiving!

We wish you a happy Thanksgiving. (We hope it involves pie.) Thank you for being a part of AOA this year.... (more)

"A day of Prayer and Thanksgiving in this State"

Until 1863 "days of Thanksgiving" were irregularly observed holidays in the United States. That's when Abraham Lincoln -- at the urging of Sarah Josepha Hale,... (more)

Recent Comments

Needs more monorail.

Stuff to do this weekend

...has 1 comment, most recently from RH

Happy Thanksgiving!

...has 1 comment, most recently from mg

They came from the Capital Region

...has 84 comments, most recently from Brad J

Another view of the ESP that didn't quite happen

...has 5 comments, most recently from Ann

Crepes at The French Press Cafe and Creperie

...has 6 comments, most recently from BS