The Standardbred Owners Association of New York's Board of Directors met on Saturday, December 10, in a lengthy meeting open to all harness racing members at the corporate offices in Yonkers, New York. At the conclusion of a 90-minute meeting of the Trustees of the Retirement and Welfare Fund chaired by director Peter Venaglia, the annual meeting commenced with a report of the Election's Committee.
It was announced that all five expiring directorships were filled in uncontested fashion. New directors Jordan Stratton (trainer/driver) and Ed Fucci (owner) joined longstanding directors Sandra Kaufman (owner), Michael Forte (trainer/driver) and Stanley Noga (owner) in receiving 3-year terms.
Additionally, the board re-elected Joseph Faraldo as president, Irv Atherton as vice president/treasurer and John Brennan as vice president/secretary.
During the almost three-hour board meeting, many important topics were covered in exhaustive fashion. The Board extensively discussed the threat potential full-blown casino gambling in New York State poses not only to our industry, but also to the entire state's tax base.
Racino operators are proposing that, in addition to no longer making contributions to the horse racing industry, that they also receive from the state an approximately 45% reduction in their tax rate on this lucrative venture from that now paid for participation in the video lottery terminal program.
The result will be a lose-lose proposition for the state and its racing and breeding industries, as the V.L.T.'s would all eventually be replaced with table games and slot machines.
The Board also discussed the inherent dangers presented to the industry by exchange wagering and the companies that engage in such business. As has been exhibited in Great Britain and elsewhere, there is a quite small distribution of revenue back to our industry from this activity.
Moreover, very real integrity issues involving exchange wagering have been experienced in both Thoroughbred racing and professional tennis. Discussion was had about some of the difficulties presented by a major exchange wagering operator in Australia and how that experience mimics the extremely costly N.Y.C.O.T.B. debacle, where the industry lost tens of millions of dollars because the corporation felt payments to our industry weren't important, much less legally mandated.
There were many positive topics discussed as well. The board conversed about the SOA's cooperative effort with Yonkers Raceway on a number of promotional projects, including a 2012 calendar and a just-concluded handicapping contest conducted in conjunction with Nassau O.T.B. Of special note was the SOA's joint venture with the Raceway and The New York Racing Association (NYRA) that guarantees T.V. coverage of Yonkers' races in the New York City market vacated by N.Y.C.O.T.B.'s bankruptcy.
A report was delivered regarding the work of our horsemen in a Yonkers Raceway initiative for a racing-only T.V. commercial. Lastly, a report by the Peter Venaglia, Chairman of the Contract Negotiating Committee indicated the impending resolution of all issues towards a new two-year contract with Yonkers Raceway governing the terms and conditions of racing.
Both sides have conducted the negotiations very professionally, and an agreement may be finalized as early as the week of December 12 that will ensure racing from January though December.