Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he has signed legislation to establish the NYRA Reorganization Board that will place NYRA under temporary public control in order to reform the association and transform oversight and management of horse racing in New York State.
"New York State's racing industry is a major economic driver in the state, supporting thousands of jobs and attracting tourists from around the world," Governor Cuomo said. "New York taxpayers and the betting public deserve a racing industry that is managed competently and does not neglect the health and safety of the horses. The NYRA Reorganization Board will restore public trust, accountability, and transparency to the racing industry in our state, so New York can continue to offer one of the most exciting, enjoyable, safe horse racing experiences in the nation."
The NYRA Reorganization Board will be comprised of a majority of publicly appointed directors, with a Chair nominated by the Governor. The Board will be in effect for 3 years to restructure and reorganize NYRA, following which NYRA will revert back to majority private control. The NYRA Reorganization Board will go into effect when a majority of the new public directors are appointed, upon which the current NYRA Board will be dissolved. Once appointed, the new board will conduct a national search for a new CEO and General Counsel for NYRA.
The NYRA Reorganization Board will consist of 17 directors. Seven will be appointed by the Governor. The Senate and Assembly will appoint two directors each and five directors will be selected by the current NYRA Board. Breeders and Horsemen will each have an ex officio member. Additionally, a chairperson will be nominated by the Governor subject to Board approval. The current board is 25 directors, with 14 elected by NYRA and 11 appointed by public officials.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said, "The establishment of the NYRA Reorganization Board is an important step in reforming the association and ensuring the fair and honest treatment of bettors and taxpayers. With increased oversight and better management, New York's horse racing industry can improve to become an even more successful economic engine."
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "Horse racing has an important place in New York's history. It is an integral component of our economy, drawing tourists to our world class racetracks and providing thousands of jobs. I commend Governor Cuomo for his leadership in reforming the New York Racing Association (NYRA). The creation of the NYRA Reorganization Board is a first step to providing critical oversight and restoring the confidence of bettors and fans in our growing racing industry."
Senator John Bonacic, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering said, "NYRA needed radical change. Whether it is horses dying on the track, NYRA keeping $8.5 million from fans or the self-serving $250,000 painting, NYRA needed a complete makeover. I have learned in four years on the Racing Committee, and two years as Chairman of the Committee, that racing is full of special interests that try and protect their own turf, while fans are left behind. I applaud Governor Cuomo and Senator Skelos for working in a bi-partisan way and providing leadership in forcing the issue. I am pleased to partner with them and know these changes will restore integrity to racing and grow the fan base in New York."
Assembly Member J. Gary Pretlow, chair of the committee on Racing and Wagering, said "I applaud Governor Cuomo for signing this legislation. The NYRA Reorganization Board will ensure that we restore accountability to our horse racing industry. I am confident that the Reorganization Board will implement good management practices necessary to oversee the day to day racing activities at New York's racetracks."
NYRA is a not-for-profit corporation that is responsible for the operation of the three largest horse-racing tracks in New York: Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park, Queens; Belmont Park in Elmont, Long Island; and Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs.
The membership of the NYRA Reorganization Board will be announced in the near future.