02/07/2012 12:10PM

New York racing, breeding, agriculture interests form lobbying alliance


Organizations representing New York’s Thoroughbred horsemen and breeders have joined with harness and agriculture associations to lobby for their interests in an increasingly pro-gambling environment in the state, according to the organizations.

The consortium is being called the New York Horse Racing and Agriculture Industry Alliance. The group’s mission will be “to secure support for/protection of these critically important industries in any amendment to New York’s constitution to allow for full-scale commercial casinos.”

Over the past month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has begun pushing for an amendment to the state’s constitution that would allow for full-scale casino gambling. Cuomo has also said he supports a deal that would allow the operator of a casino at Aqueduct to expand in exchange for the operator’s commitment to build a convention center at the track, a project that has raised concerns about the long-term future of racing at Aqueduct.

By statute, Thoroughbred and harness horsemen receive subsidies from casino operations at the nine tracks that currently operate casinos. Gov. Cuomo indicated in an interview with the editorial board of New York Newsday last week that he has questions about the efficacy of providing the subsidies.

Rick Violette, the president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, said on Tuesday that organization began discussing the formation of the alliance in December. He said the alliance would not have a staff, but would work together to protect the racing and agriculture industries in the state.

“We’re certainly laying the groundwork if anything should come up that threatens us,” Violette said.