Assemblywoman Woerner: Bill to Return NYRA to Private Control Moves Forward

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) announced that legislation she authored to provide for the transition of the New York Racing Association (NYRA) from public to private control has advanced out of the Racing and Wagering Committee (A.10429).

“State control of NYRA was supposed to be a temporary solution to help the association get back on track,” Assemblywoman Woerner said. “It’s time NYRA be returned to a private entity to ensure that the long-term needs of the racing community and local residents are successfully met.”

Woerner’s legislation would dismantle the current state-appointed reorganization board, which was established in 2012 to help the association restructure its finances and avoid bankruptcy. Control would be transferred to a new 15-member board, which would include two appointees by the governor, one by the Assembly and one by the Senate.

Other board members would include the chief executive officer of NYRA, one appointee by the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, one by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and eight by the executive committee of the current NYRA reorganization board –including representatives from Saratoga, Nassau and Queens counties where NYRA’s three race tracks are located.

Capital Region lawmakers sent a bipartisan letter to Governor Cuomo last year urging that NYRA be returned to a private, nonprofit association. They echoed concerns from the racing community that state control is impeding critical decisions that affect the long-term success and stability of the racing industry, including capital projects and other initiatives.

“The Saratoga Race Track provides significant economic benefits that help local families make ends meet and is a historical landmark that people come from near and far to experience,” Woerner said. “Reprivatizing NYRA will help it conduct business the state cannot do on its behalf and will ensure continued viability of projects at the association’s racing facilities, especially in Saratoga.”