09/17/2007 11:00PM

More N.Y. franchise panel talks

EmailThe New York Senate's Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering will hold three more hearings to discuss the awarding of the franchise currently held by the New York Racing Association, the chairman of the committee, Sen. Bill Larkin, said on Tuesday.

The scheduling of the three hearings indicates that members of the Senate remain unsupportive of a recent agreement reached between Gov. Eliot Spitzer and NYRA to extend the association's franchise by 30 years. Any agreement to award the franchise, which expires at the end of this year, needs the approval of the governor and both houses of the New York legislature.

Last week, the committee held its first hearing on the franchise in the state capital of Albany. At that hearing, members of the committee, including Larkin, expressed dissatisfaction with the agreement to extend the franchise.

According to a release from Larkin's office, the first of the three new hearings, on Sept. 27 in Albany, will focus on the agreement between Spitzer and NYRA, as well as "explore the economic and regulatory issues related to his recommendation."

The second hearing, which will be held at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., at an undetermined date during the first week of October, will focus on the impact of any franchise award on the communities surrounding Belmont, according to the release. Although slot machines are prohibited at Belmont, some community groups in Elmont and bidders for the franchise have been pushing for machines there as part of the franchise award.

The third hearing, during the second week of October at an undetermined location, will give all four bidders for the franchise - NYRA, Capital Play Ltd., Empire Racing Associates, and Excelsior Racing Associates - an opportunity to present their plans to the committee.