06/03/2004 11:00PM

Gaming bill sees resistance

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ELMONT, N.Y. - The New York Senate quickly passed a bill on Thursday that would overhaul the regulation of racing and gambling in the state, but the legislation faces some resistance in the state's Assembly, according to officials.

The bill, which would abolish a number of state agencies - including the New York State Racing and Wagering Board and the Capital Investment Fund - passed the Republican-dominated Senate by a vote of 49-10. The legislation was initially proposed by Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, and was sponsored by Sen. Bill Larkin, the Republican chairman of the Senate Racing, Wagering and Gaming Committee.

A staff member of the Assembly who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that several Assembly members have concerns over "technical flaws" in the bill, and say that the legislation goes too far in overhauling the state's regulatory structure. The official said the bill would not leave the Assembly without substantial amendments, if at all. The Assembly is controlled by Democrats.

If the bill is passed in an amended form, the legislation would need to pass the Senate again.

Sheldon Silver, the Democratic leader of the Assembly, did not return a phone call requesting comment.

The legislation would set up a State Gaming Commission that would be responsible for regulating all gambling activity in New York. The bill would also create an oversight committee for the New York Racing Association, which is already operating under a federally appointed oversight group. NYRA was indicted last year on charges of tax fraud and conspiracy, but the association avoided a conviction by agreeing to the oversight group and other concessions.

The bill is also designed to ease the installation of slot machines at Aqueduct, a process that has stalled because of concerns by MGM Grand, NYRA's slot vendor, over the state of the association's franchise. NYRA's franchise to operate Belmont, Saratoga, and Aqueduct expires at the end of 2007, when the franchise could be taken over by another company. Larkin's bill would bind any company that receives NYRA's franchise to the same terms of any slots contract signed by NYRA.