03/25/2002 12:00AM

New York raises track slots share


NEW YORK - The New York Lottery division has told racetracks in the state that they will be allowed to keep 25 percent of the revenue from video gambling machines, conceding to some racetracks' demands for a larger cut of the pie.

The lottery division had previously told tracks that they would likely receive only 12 percent of the revenue, according to Barry Schwartz, chairman of NYRA, and other racing officials. The law that legalized gambling machines set the minimum cut for tracks at 12 percent and the maximum at 25 percent, negotiated between the tracks and the lottery.

Racetrack officials had contended that they would be unable to afford the costly renovations required to house and monitor the machines at the minimum cut.

"I'm still lobbying for them to pick up some more of the expenses, but at least we're closer together," Schwartz said Monday. "All we need to do is break even. We're in this for the horsemen's cut, and that's it."

Horsemen will get 40 percent of the track's cut in the first year, and 50 percent a year after that.

In letters sent last week, the lottery told Aqueduct that it will be eligible for 2,500 machines. Finger Lakes in upstate New York will be eligible for 1,000 machines.

Among the six harness tracks where the machines were legalized, Yonkers Raceway will be eligible for 2,500, and Saratoga Equine Sports Center can install 1,000.

The tracks have until April 1 to ask the lottery to consider a different number of gambling machines.