The New York Racing Association said Monday it’s facing a cash crunch that could threaten the Belmont Stakes and thoroughbred horse racing’s Triple Crown because the state government still hasn’t approved video slot machines at the Aqueduct racetrack.
NYRA President Charlie Hayward said that unless state lawmakers agree to get video slots up and running soon at Aqueduct, the NYRA may need another $30 million bailout from the state to save the racing season at Belmont, which includes the storied final leg of the Triple Crown.
Such threats have been made before by the private group, which runs thoroughbred racing and state tracks under a franchise. But Hayward insisted the NYRA is down to about $11 million in cash, $4 million short of projections, because of a debt owed by the New York City Off-Track Betting Corp., which also has been perennially troubled.
“We think we’re going to burn through that $11 million sometime in May or June,” Hayward told The Associated Press.
He said if the NYRA can’t be assured of a steady flow of cash from video slots at Aqueduct or from the state, which is also trying to address deficits, then the racing group wouldn’t open the Belmont track on Long Island this spring because of seasonal commitments that would have to be made to horse owners.
Legislative leaders and Gov. David Paterson, however, have been unable to agree on a vendor, who would have to pay $200 million up front to the state. The most recent process, part of an effort for more than half a decade to put a video slots machine center in the Aqueduct track in Queens, is months overdue.
Paterson said that if it were in his power he’d make the decision “in 10 minutes,” but legislative leaders won’t agree. He said, however, he may soon announce his choice to force an agreement.
As for the threat to the Belmont Stakes?
“I have no information as to whether that is right or isn’t,” Paterson said.
Some of the video slots revenue, estimated at $1 million a day, would go to NYRA, which operates the Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga tracks.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.