Close to a year ago, when Governor Cuomo announced the state was going to 'direct' NYRA and in effect have control of slots money there was an uproar. It was like Al Gore was buying Fox News.
The takeover was surely going to hurt racing, and who likes to be told what to do anyway; especially with all this new found slot money.
In places like Indiana this week, where the government is looking at taking away the slot subsidy, it's probably a done deal. Politicos on each side seem to be saying like Governor Pence's press secretary, "there is a better way to use this money". In Ontario, as we all know, the villain was racing and its waste of its slot money. We need it for deficit reduction, was the hue and cry. Both governments use racing as a whipping boy for wasting all this money. It's all racings fault.
In New York, one year down the road, I think everyone should be happy with this state control; simply because when the state is making the decisions, they can't hold NYRA or anyone else to blame.
A year ago there were deaths at Aqueduct. This year there are about as many, after following the government led task force recommendations too. This is bad news of course, but selfishly if NYRA was in charge someone's head would've been on a platter. Someone somewhere would say "these people don't deserve all this money." The 'let's get rid of slots for racetracks' drum would be pounded; be sure of that.
It's easy to spend, tax, or direct other people's money. It's very, very easy to criticize when others are making decisions. However, when the state is directing policy and making those decisions, it becomes much more difficult. They rarely, if ever, criticize themselves. On the flip side, if something works, the government is quick to take credit. This is a win-win for horse racing, because if a policy fails, they will continue to try and fix it, if it succeeds they'll tell everyone how smart they are.
This was seen just this month. Instead of headlines in early 2013 calling NYRA stupid regarding the deaths at the Big A this season, we're seeing more and more chatter about moving forward. For example, the Governor announced that about $2 million from slots will be directed to "equine safety". There's also chat's about synthetic racetracks at the A.
Failed policy? Let's fix it.
Governor Cuomo is the captain of the good ship racing. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.