NYRA’s Video Online Casino On Hold ‘Til 2007

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Video slot machines pegged to be the financial savior of the New York Racing Association won’t be in place until 2007 — just months before NYRA’s agreement with the state ends.

 

Less than four months ago, NYRA said the high-revenue machines would be operating between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. NYRA president Charles Hayward said Tuesday gaining several approvals from state agencies and the vendor, MGM Mirage, took longer than he hoped.

 

The state racing oversight board told NYRA it would have to refigure its 2006 budget to exclude the video slots, board spokesman Scott Reif said.

 

NYRA has run thoroughbred racing in New York since 1955 and its contract with the state expires Dec. 31, 2007. The organization has blamed the rise in other forms of Online Casino, including off-track betting, for cutting deeply into its business.

 

NYRA’s past management also had been accused by state and federal investigators of mismanagement. A federal indictment was dropped because of confidence in Hayward’s leadership.

 

Hayward said a $30 million state bailout, as well as better-than-projected revenues from January and February, will keep NYRA operating in the state into 2007. He declined to project a new date for the video slots to be running.

 

On Tuesday, the state’s racing oversight board approved the MGM contract so construction should begin soon on the $170 million facility in Queens, Hayward said. Aqueduct’s video parlor is to house 4,500 machines and is expected to generate more than $400 million annually for the state.

 

Also, a group of New York horse owners and breeders announced they will be among the challengers to NYRA’s franchise. The Empire Racing Association said it has been endorsed by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, a group of race horse owners, which will have a financial interest in new organization.

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