Protections for Horse Racing Industry Included in Just-Signed New York Budget

Protections for Horse Racing Industry Included in Just-Signed New York Budget
By Lou Monaco
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

With so much emphasis on the passing of New York’s fiscal year 2023 budget and the inclusion of three downstate casinos last week, you might have asked: What about horse racing?

Anything for one of the largest sports industries that contributes to the state economy on a daily basis?

Take a deep breath, handicappers and New York sports betting fans: Protections for horse racing and the thoroughbred breeding industry were included in the budget signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Saturday.

Below are the key points of what is included in the latest budget, pertaining to gaming:

Financial Protections for Horse Racing

The budget includes financial protections to ensure there will be no reduction or elimination of revenue-sharing payments from video lottery terminal (VLT) gambling operators if those facilities win licenses to become full gaming casinos.

The legislation maintains racing financial support payments from video lottery terminal processes at the same levels as 2019. This is in place in the event an existing VLT facility, such as Aqueduct Racetrack, gets a new, full-casino license. Annual adjustments would be made based on the consumer price index.

These racing support payments from existing VLT machines fund the purse account on the NYRA (New York Racing Association) circuit, the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding & Development Fund and capital improvement projects at NYRA.

NEW YORK RACING CONTINUES

The current 15-day Aqueduct spring meet will end on April 24 and then will move to Belmont Park, where its 44-day race meet will be from April 28 through July 10, highlighted by the 154th running of the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, the third leg in racing’s Triple Crown, on June 11. It was announced last week that trainer Bob Baffert will not be allowed to have any of his horses entered in the Belmont.

Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs following last year’s positive drug test of his horse Medina Spirit, the original 2021 Kentucky Derby winner. His horses were banned for last year’s Belmont as well.

Saratoga Race Course is coming off a record meet of more than $800 million in handle in 2021. Its 40-day summer meet will begin Thursday, July 14 through Labor Day, featuring the 153rd edition of the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers.

What About Those Downstate Casinos?

Gov. Hochul’s budget really caught the eyes of New York sports betting fans with the news on beginning plans for three casinos in or near New York City.

Interested parties will be subjected to a bidding and site process that will include New York City’s five boroughs (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island), Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley Region, which includes Westchester and Rockland counties.

Eventually, the winning bids will be selected by the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC), much like that body did in selecting operators for mobile betting licenses last November.

“By allowing three casinos in the downstate region to operate with full licenses, it will create thousands of jobs when considering construction and credible post-construction union jobs,” state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Jr., chairman of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, said in a news release. “It also means additional revenue for the state, estimated at an initial $1.5 billion from the three license fees, and will allow us to significantly fund important educational and gaming addiction programs.”

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Contributors

Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media (NJ.com) in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.

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