Monday, December 21, 2009

NYS Budget Woes May Force Cancellation Of Belmont Stakes

Only in New York kids. New York State is facing a huge budget crunch, and one of the victims may be the New York State Racing Association, which operates the Belmont racetrack, where the third (and longest) leg of the Triple Crown is held every June.
"If we can't make payroll, we have to shut down," Hayward said. "There is certainly a possibility that Belmont may not open and there will be no third leg of the Triple Crown." The racing group is waiting for cash that would come from a plan to install video slot machines at the Aqueduct Racetracks in Queens — which would net an estimated $1 million per day in revenue that would allow the Belmont, Saratoga, and Aqueduct tracks to stay open, while providing long-term cash to the state and $200 million in licensing fees that is needed to close this year's budget in Albany.

But legislators haven't been able to agree on which of the five private firms should run the lottery terminals. The first winning bidder withdrew when the state demanded $370 million upfront instead of in quarterly payments, then casino mogul Steve Wynn backed out because the state demanded that the winning bidder pay at least $200 million within 30 days of signing a contract.
The state needs the money up front to help close a huge budget deficit, and the ongoing revenues will help fill the gaping maw of spending excess.

Part of the problem comes from the fact that the Legislature hoped to access those revenues, and they have yet to materialize.

New York City is also hoping to generate revenues from video terminals at Aqueduct, which could fund 848 teachers or the MTA student transit pass discount program. If it doesn't materialize, the City will have to find the revenue elsewhere.

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