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NYRA's back in the money

By Lombardo David
Tuesday, June 26, 2012

About $4 million in video-lottery terminal revenue was released to the New York Racing Association's coffers last week by the state, which cut off this source last month as a sign of disapproval with appointments made by the scandal-plagued thoroughbred racing operator.

On May 15, the state Division of Lottery was ordered to withhold NYRA's share of the revenue generated by VLTs at the Resorts World facility at Aqueduct. VLT revenue scheduled to fund purse increase at NYRA's tracks at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga continued to flow, but money for capital projects and its operating budget was put into an escrow account.

That account was released on Friday, following the passage of legislation creating a new Reorganization Board to lead NYRA for the next three years, said Lottery Director Gordon Medenica after Tuesday's meeting of the state Franchise Oversight Board. Medenica added that "the normal flow [of VLT money] has resumed"

Neither the state nor NYRA would say how much money was withheld, but in NYRA's enacted budget it predicted VLT revenue would contribute about $2.29 million a month for capital projects and $1.72 million a month for the operating budget. The escrow account accumulated funds over a period of about 37 days.

When the funds were initially withheld, New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. Executive Director Jeffrey Cannizzo told the Gazette, "Everyone is well aware that NYRA is in vital need of the VLT money to stay in business."

NYRA wouldn't comment on the impact of the delayed funds.

During the meeting, McClain introduced NYRA's new vice president and chief marketing officer, Rodnell Workman. He has a background in sports marketing and gave a brief talk to the board about his vision for expanding interest in racing.

No one on the board asked Workman what his salary will be and he declined to reveal the information to reporters after the meeting. NYRA has previously come under fire from the state for failing to reveal information about salaries for its executives.

The legislation that created the reorganization board for NYRA also pushed back the creation of the state Gaming Commission. This agency was a consolidation of the Lottery Division and the state Racing and Wagering Board. The new commission will come into being in Februrary 2013, instead of inOctober.

A full story on the Franchise Oversight Board meeting will appear in Wednesday's edition of the Daily Gazette.

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