Feedback: Concerns over Yonkers sale to MGM

HRU Feedback (2018-06-03)

June 3, 2018

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RE: Joe Faraldo: Don’t panic over Yonkers being sold to MGM (full story here)

Mr. Faraldo is answering the wrong question. It’s his opinion of what he expects MGM to do. As I remember it when VTL’s were allowed by the state, the law tied it to the subsidy of racing by the casino. That was the bargaining chip to force a reasonable deal that led to enhanced purses. The ONLY important thing now is whether that mandate will still be in place when the contract ends in 2019, or does it sunset and will be gone? Without that, there will be no deal with the horsemen.

Why in the world would MGM want a racing partner who just takes money from their profits unless they get something in return? With that in mind, it seems that MGM does not feel that they need racing to secure the license anymore. They are putting up $850 million where the value is almost fully dependent on the state continuing the license, and if that were tied into a racing deal, then they would insist on negotiating that racing deal now, before the purchase.

So Mr. Faraldo is answering the wrong question. I’d be more interested in knowing if the requirement that the casino have racing in order to be licensed will still be in effect. If it is, then I would be secure in knowing that an extension of racing will be there.

— Barry Rubenstein / Brookville, NY

More on Yonkers sale

Joe Faraldo clarified nothing with his statement. The agreement the horsemen have with Yonkers Raceway appears to expire sometime in 2019. The initial agreement that REQUIRED Yonkers Raceway to get the VTL’s was that horse racing was to survive and a negotiated agreement between the horsemen and Yonkers Raceway ensued. That was a provision that had to happen for the State of New York to approve the VTL’s being installed there.

The only question that has to be answered is this; Does the initial agreement sunset at the end of 2019? If not, what are the terms of an extension? If MGM is not required to subsidize racing from the casino operation they will for sure end horse racing at the track. It is no secret that the horse racing operation and current purse structure is a losing proposition. The land in the acquisition can certainly be utilized by MGM in a more profitable way.

If Yonkers Raceway closes, that will be a huge blow to harness racing. There is still huge uncertainty as what The Meadowlands racing status will be even with the addition of VTL’s. A referendum for a casino was defeated once and could be again in New Jersey. Even with the possible expansion of horse racing again at The Meadowlands it will still have a net negative effect on harness racing if Yonkers Raceway closes with all its ramifications.

— Gordy Freeman / Cresskill, NJ

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