06/03/2004 12:00AM

New York Senate passes regulatory reform legislation

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ELMONT, N.Y. - The New York Senate passed legislation on Thursday that would abolish the New York State Racing and Wagering Board and set up an oversight committee for the New York Racing Association.

The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Bill Larkin, the chairman of the Senate's Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, and recommended one week ago during a speech by Gov. George Pataki. The bill would abolish a number of state agencies that regulate gambling activities and consolidate them under a State Gaming Commission. The commission would be responsible for regulating racing, off-track betting companies, slot-machine wagering, and the lottery.

The legislation would also create a NYRA Oversight Board that would "monitor the finances and operations" of NYRA, the quasi-governmental agency that operates Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga. NYRA is already operating under the scrutiny of a federally appointed audit company related to a 2003 indictment in which NYRA avoided a conviction in exchange for agreeing to certain conditions.

The bill would need to be passed by New York's Assembly and signed by the governor to become law. Gov. Pataki's plan was virtually identical to the legislation passed on Thursday.