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EDITORIAL: NYRA casino deal raises flags

EDITORIAL: NYRA casino deal raises flags

Why would the New York Racing Association promote an out-of-state casino?
EDITORIAL: NYRA casino deal raises flags
The 151st opening day of Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs.
Photographer: Erica Miller

Revised, 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 17, 2019.

So what is NYRA saying here?

Is it saying that there are absolutely no casinos outside the immediate area that couldn’t use some cross-promotion from one of the most popular summer tourism venues in the Northeast? Zero? Zip? Nada?

That’s what it must be saying. Because that’s the only way the New York Racing Association could justify its new partnership with the Encore Boston Harbor casino in Massachusetts. The arrangement  includes signs advertising the Boston-area casino in the club and two races on busy track days sponsored by the Boston venue.

Is NYRA so insulated from the New York state economy and the state’s gambling climate that it feels no compunction about entering a partnership with a business from outside New York, and worse, enter a cross-promotional partnership with a casino that is in competition with the Saratoga racino, Rivers casino in Schenectady, and all the other casinos and racinos in New York?

We’re not pretending the Boston casino doesn’t exist.

But does NYRA, which once had to be rescued with more than 100 million New York taxpayer dollars, have to go out of its way to push gambling business out of the state to this place, when so many others in the state can barely stay afloat?

If the idea is to promote Saratoga racing in the Boston area in the wake of the Suffolk Downs race track shutdown, then why not target those bettors with billboards and other advertising methods? Why partner with the competition?

State lawmakers should look into whether this arrangement is something NYRA is entitled to do and whether it’s something the state wants to support, given its interests in seeing New York’s other gambling venues succeed.

Maybe NYRA just got the best deal it could make and didn’t consider other factors. Maybe, as Michael Corleone said in ‘The Godfather,’ “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.”

That’s no excuse. As Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, a member of the Assembly’s Racing and Wagering Committee, said, such a deal should raise some red flags.

It certainly should — with the state’s gaming industry state lawmakers and taxpayers.

Correction: A previous version of this editorial contained incorrect information about the relationship between Encore Boston Harbor and the New York Racing Association. While NYRA will be promoting the Encore casino through advertising and other marketing efforts, Encore does not provide guest hospitality services at the new 1863 Club at Saratoga Race Course. Also, NYRA has had a longstanding partnership to promote and market Saratoga Casino Hotel and a similar promotional partnership with Rivers Casino in Schenectady.The editorial has since been revised to reflect the correct information.

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