11/07/2014 12:50PM

New York VLT revenue to help pay for jockeys' insurance


A bill passed this year by the New York state legislature will allow qualifying jockeys to have their health insurance paid for from a portion of video-lottery-terminal revenue previously earmarked for purses.

Before the legislature adjourned for the summer, it passed a measure that directs 1.5 percent of video-lottery-terminal revenue – approximately $1 million – to this program that would have gone to purses. The New York Task Force on Jockey Health and Safety, formed in the fall of 2013, met a few times to discuss this hot-button issue but never made a formal recommendation to the state. Instead, state legislators, including Dean Skelos, Jeff Kleinand, and Sheldon Silver, took it upon themselves to introduce and eventually pass the measure.

Jockeys who qualify will be eligible for reimbursements for their 2014 health expenses. Beginning in 2015, jockeys will be reimbursed for health insurance purchased on the exchange operated in New York under the Affordable Care Act.

To be eligible, jockeys must have ridden at least 250 races at a New York Racing Association track – Aqueduct, Belmont, or Saratoga – during the prior year, or 150 races at Finger Lakes. It is expected that 50 to 75 jockeys will be eligible to buy insurance under these guidelines.

NYRA will be in charge of administering insurance benefits under a formal agreement with the Jockeys’ Guild and the New York State Gaming Commission.

Prior to this agreement, jockeys had been covered under the states workers’ compensation policy, which was funded by owners and trainers.