The following letter is a response to Alan Schwartz, president of the Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association from Erin Dennin, Director of Communications, New York Gaming Association.
The president of the Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association (MHHA) recently issued comments that were highly critical of the New York Gaming Association (NYGA.)
There was no basis in reality for these comments. They were misinformed and unprofessional.
Throughout NYGA's existence, our members have sought to work collaboratively with the horsemen and to the mutual benefit of our respective industries. There is a long record of results in this regard:
From 2004 to 2013, NYGA members have generated $1.1 billion in support of the racing and breeding industry. This includes $235 million in 2013 alone, a full 12 percent of gross gaming revenues. These funds support more than 4,000 full-time equivalent racing and breeding jobs and help to sustain New York’s 2,300 breeding, training and racing facilities, in addition to 23,000 family owned farms.
Just last year, NYGA members generated $101 million for the standardbred racing and breeding industry. Since 2004, our facilities generated $625 million to purses for standardbred racing. That’s two and a half times the amounts in Kentucky and Ohio combined given the most recent data available.
Furthermore, NYGA members provide a venue for New York’s racing product offering more race dates than any other state in the northeast. Without the financial support of NYGA member facilities, there would be no more racing in New York State.
Mr. Schwartz has tried to paint a picture that our members are trying to kill racing. He even went so far as to claim that NYGA members “engineered a law that will for all intents and purposes, freeze our industry out of existence…”. To be clear, NYGA members don’t “engineer” laws. Lawmakers do.
Indeed like many others in the racing and gaming industry, NYGA does support the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act. The legislation provides for continued support of the standardbred industry, both by maintaining payments at 2013 dollar amounts and by guaranteeing any necessary future support from additional commercial casinos. These provisions will help to ensure the continuance of current payments to the standardbred industry, and more importantly will offer protection against any future losses in the face of cannibalization of Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) revenues.
Three of our nine members have stated an interest in obtaining commercial casino licenses, and all three of them have planned improved tracks and grandstands to enhance their racing product. This will be a significant investment in the racing industry on their collective parts. No NYGA member has ever advocated or worked against either the standardbred or thoroughbred industries - contrary to what Mr. Schwartz and his allies may try to make you believe.
In addition, Mr. Schwartz also alleges that in an effort to “hasten the end of racing”; the track operators do not market the sport. Our track operators and their horsemen have a collaborative relationship and in many instances combine their marketing efforts for the betterment of the industry. Throughout any given year, track operators will expend marketing funds to cross-market both racing and gaming.
NYGA members have enjoyed a long and successful relationship with New York’s racing and breeding industry and plans to continue that partnership into the future. The nine member tracks of the New York Gaming Association are proud of their long standing record of generating funds for education, creating jobs at their facilities and in their local communities and of course supporting New York’s storied racing and breeding industry.
Erin Dennin, Director of Communications, New York Gaming Association