New York State has taken temporary control of the New York Racing Association (NYRA), the a not-for-profit corporation responsible for operating the three largest horse-racing tracks in New York – Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga.
The directors of the association approved the move, which will see a new board of 17 directors take control for three years.
The move is the first step in a major shakeup of the scandal-plagued association. It has faced bankruptcy proceedings, a state bailout and two top officers were recently fired amid allegations that $US8.5 million in winnings was kept from gamblers last year.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the NYRA Reorganization Board will place the NYRA under temporary public control in order to reform the association and transform oversight and management of horse racing in the state.
“The racing industry is a vital part of New York State’s culture and economy, attracting millions of dollars in tourism revenue from across the nation and supporting thousands of jobs,” Cuomo said.
“With the structure of the gaming industry changing here in New York, the state also needs to take a new approach to how it manages and governs racing.
“New Yorkers can be assured that the NYRA Reorganization Board will act in the interests of the members of the public who enjoy horse racing, the taxpayers who support it, and the horses themselves, to make racing in our state the strongest, safest and most enjoyable in the country.”
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said the Reorganization Board would put in place new leadership to ensure that bettors and taxpayers are treated fairly and honestly.
“We will continue working together with the Governor and NYRA so New York State remains a leading home for horse racing.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “New York’s horse racing industry supports jobs and local economies all across the state. It is important to maintain the integrity of the sport so that those who come out to enjoy these events are not shortchanged or treated unfairly.”
NYRA Board Chairman Steven Duncker said: “The NYRA Reorganization Board will help ensure that racing in New York has a strong and stable future as the gaming and racing industry evolves.
“I thank the members of the current NYRA Board for supporting the changes announced today and together we will work to ensure a smooth transition and bright future for New York racing.”
NYRA board member John Hendrickson said, “The bettors, fans, public, and government deserve trust in their racing. This resolution is a necessary first step. I am encouraged that racing will now receive enthusiastic commitments from Albany. Governor Cuomo is to be commended for his vocal support of racing, and for bringing all parties together for a positive resolution.”
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 three 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 NYRA Reorganization Board will consist of 17 directors. Seven will be appointed by the governor. The Senate and Assembly will appoint two directors each and five directors will be selected by the current NYRA Board.
Breeders and Horsemen will each have an ex officio member. Additionally, a chairperson will be nominated by the governor, subject to board approval. The current board is 25 directors, with 14 elected by NYRA and 11 appointed by public officials.
The agreement will require legislation to implement which both leaders have agreed to support.