03/17/2005 1:00AM

Bills would aid N.Y. slots


The New York Senate passed a pair of bills on Thursday that seek to jump-start slot-machine operations at Aqueduct racetrack and Yonkers Raceway by giving racetracks a larger share of slot revenue and by protecting Aqueduct's partner in its casino project.

The bills seek to address the concerns of both the New York Racing Association, the owner and operator of Aqueduct, and those of the New York Supreme Court's Appellate Division, which last year ruled that horse subsidies from slot machines violated the state constitution. Both bills would increase the amount of money going to tracks that install slots. Tracks that currently operate slots have complained that the current 29 percent cut from slot machines is insufficient.

Both bills originated in the Senate Racing and Wagering Committee, chaired by Sen. William Larkin.

One bill would increase the racetrack share to 32 percent on the first $50 million of net winnings each year, 29 percent for the next $100 million, and 26 percent for the remainder. The horsemen's share, approximately 8 percent, would come from the track's vendor fee, subject to negotiation.

The other bill would increase the vendor fee from 29 percent to 34 percent. The bill also seeks to avert any constitutionality issues by having a 9 percent horsemen's subsidy and a 4 percent advertising subsidy come out of the state's general fund, according to Steve Casscles, counsel for Larkin.