A Win: NY Legislature Finally Says No to NYRA

The New York Racing Association’s (NYRA) effort to get a half-billion dollars in state-backed bonds to rebuild Belmont Park has failed, the bill dying yesterday, the final day of the session. To my knowledge, this is the first time NYRA (and NYS racing in general) has lost, at least in any significant way, in the legislature. Good news, indeed.

Senator Robert Jackson and Assemblyperson Linda Rosenthal are the sponsors of legislation that would strip the NY racing industry of $230 million in annual corporate welfare and redirect it where it belongs – education, primarily. (We are part of a broad coalition championing this measure.) The pair wrote an op-ed on the bond bill in the Gotham Gazette Thursday. Here are some excerpts:

“The twice-bankrupt New York Racing Association is back at the State Capitol, cup in hand, asking the state to back $450 million in bonds to rebuild Belmont Park’s perfectly suitable and usually empty racetrack. The bonds would be in addition to the millions of dollars the state already provides to the industry through subsidies and tax exemptions.

“NYRA proposes to dedicate money it receives from video lottery terminals – money that should be going to education – to pay back the debt service on the bonds. Using state subsidies to pay back state-backed debt does not pass the laugh test.

“Preventing the Belmont bonds legislation is the first step in ending New York State’s long-standing corporate welfare to this failing industry. After 10 years of subsidies, NYRA is no closer to self-sufficiency. Enough is enough. It’s time to cut the cord.”

Yesterday, in saying no to the bonds, the legislature has hopefully begun the process of severing that cord entirely.

(full Gotham piece here)

16 Comments

  1. Thank you, Patrick, for posting this great news!!!!! This is the first time the legislature has said “NO!” to horse racing! YAY!!!!!
    Can you imagine $450-Million in state-backed bonds to the NYRA, and they had the gall, the brazen boldness and rudeness, to ask and expect to get that much more corporate welfare to their dying industry of ABUSING HORSES as gambling chips.

      • The NYRA appears to have no conscience whatsoever about robbing from Peter to pay Paul so to speak. This brazen attempt to drain the state and the taxpayers dry while committing egregious cruelties to horses is too much, too far, too long!!!!

        • These monies should be going to infrastructure, school programs and programs to educate people about how much better life should be and if you have a problem seek help.

  2. Patrick this is indeed FANTASTIC news! Thank you for your tireless work. One step/track at a time until all the subsidies end!!

  3. It’s about time and YIPPEE!!! Thanks to the legislatures in New York for finally having some sanity. Now if only something like this would even be CONSIDERED in Kentucky! But I am afraid it won’t happen in my lifetime. :(

    • Jeanette, this bill denied in New York was for a “special” project in addition to the already roughly $250-Million a year government subsidies and government-directed benefits that the State of New York has been bankrolling horseracing with. This NYRA BILL to get $450-Million was to build a new clubhouse and “stuff” like that.
      The bill to terminate the original $250-Million (more or less) bankrolling of horseracing in New York is a separate bill entirely.
      To the best of my knowledge, Kentucky horseracing “officials” have not requested any additional government-backed funding for “special” projects. May I stand corrected if I am wrong.

      • No, Wanda you are right. Kentucky officials have not requested special funding but I am sure if they did, our governor and legislature would fall all over themselves to please. Horse racing is so entrenched in Kentucky that I hold little hope for change. God Money rules all.

        • Jeanette, I understand that Kentucky’s claim to fame is the Kentucky Derby. It’s as popular as the Super Bowl in football. They are really close in the wagering handle — in the year 2018, the wagering handle was $158.58-Million on the Super Bowl versus $149.9-Million on the Kentucky Derby. Horseracing is definitely abuse of horses. The profit in this industry is dwindling away slowly and steadily over time. The annual foal crop numbers are steadily declining in the USA. They’re roughly half of what they were in 1990. This egregiously CRUEL industry cannot sustain itself profit-wise.

  4. This is huge.
    Horse racing has never been denied money from our elected politicians or be subjected to a public process.
    It’s about time.
    Hopefully it gets cancelled entirely.
    Success for the racehorses due to educating and exposing the facts.

    • Gina, I agree with you. … this IS huge. Thank you, Robert Jackson and Linda Rosenthal.
      Would this AWESOME, development be possible in a red state …. NO. Cause,it is what it is 🤬. Doesn’t mean possibly they will get a conscience, but no doubt much harder.

    • Yes, Gina & Bonnie — this is very huge in more ways than one! This $450-Million NYRA project could easily have SNOWBALLED into THREE TIMES that much. I’m using an actual case of this as a reference point. In 1982, in Lewiston, Idaho, they had a ONE-MILLION DOLLAR DOWNTOWN LEWISTON BEAUTIFICATION PROJECT. Well, guess how much a $1-Million DOWNTOWN LEWISTON BEAUTIFICATION PROJECT cost??? It turns out it cost $3-Million!!!

      Can you imagine that, due to the obvious factor of INFLATION and due to the (obligatory) factors of FRAUD, WASTE & ABUSE, a $450-Million project could turn into costing twice that much — $900-Million — and very possibly three times that much — ONE BILLION THREE-HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS…?!

      Who in the State of New York legislative branch of government could not see that coming? I think most, if not all, of them saw that humongous trainwreck waiting to happen in addition to the heinous cruelty to horses in horseracing and the already unsustainable business model of exploiting and killing horses for gambling revenue and et cetera!!!
      Hats off to the hero legislators in New York!!!!

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