02/27/2006 12:00AM

Md. group weighs in on N.Y.

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A public-policy organization based in Maryland issued a report on Monday setting the value of the franchise to operate the New York Racing Association's three tracks, two slot-machine facilities, and the state's six offtrack betting organizations at $2.1 billion.

The report was produced by the Maryland Tax Education Foundation, a libertarian organization that has produced reports critical of government policies in Pennsylvania and Maryland regarding slot machines at racetracks. The foundation has in the past argued that governments have undervalued gambling franchises, and the Monday report takes issue with a previous valuation - $465 million - of the same assets by a horse racing advocacy group, Friends of New York Racing.

"The state's racing and wagering assets . . . could be worth at least $2.1 billion if these assets were offered at public, competitive, open auction - roughly four times" the FNYR estimate, the report stated.

The foundation report assumed that racing laws in New York would change to allow slot machines at Belmont Park and the merger of the six OTB corporations into the franchise operator. Currently, slot machines are legal at NYRA's Aqueduct, and the state OTB corporations are owned by county governments that have resisted the idea of a merger.