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NYRA franchise in jeopardy

By Lombardo David
Tuesday, May 1, 2012

NYRA could lose its franchise agreement to run race tracks at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga.

The agreement is in jeopardy due to a history of actions that may have violated agreed upon practices. The most recent potential violation has been detailed in an ongoing investigation that suggests NYRA's President Charlie Hayward knew they were withholding too much from winning bettors during a 15-month period and kept quiet about it.

"This is not an isolated instance," wrote state Franchise Oversight Board Chairman Robert Megna in a letter Sunday to NYRA Chairman Steven Duncker. "Previously, I raised concerns about management's failure to reveal the salaries of top officials."

It is up to the state Racing and Wagering Board to revoke the franchise and it would have to be based on NYRA failing to satisfy certain "performance standards." These standards relate to the operations of the three tracks and include NYRA's expenses and how it handles betting.

A decision to revoke the franchise can be appealed in state supreme court.

Republican state Sen. John Bonacic, chairman of the Senate's Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, said NYRA may need to be replaced. "Running a government-granted monopoly on the state’s largest tracks requires ... humility ... integrity and ... common sense. NYRA was never strong on the first, the second is now in serious question and the third cannot come if the first two are problematic," he said.

There is also the possibility that NYRA could keep its franchise agreement, but executives implicated in this scandal will be banned from working in New York by the racing board.

The civil and criminal legal ramifications are even murkier.

Read the entire story about NYRA's potential challenges in The Daily Gazette on Wednesday.

Follow @GazettePolitics on Twitter.

Below is the full text of the letter from Megna to Duncker: FOB Response to NYRA Chairman

 

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