05/05/2010 11:00PM

NYRA relief funds being held up

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Legislation that would advance $17 million to the New York Racing Association for operations is being held up by concerns raised by the state's budget division over the how the advance would be funded, according to NYRA officials.

Draft versions of the legislation have so far tied the advance to revenue NYRA anticipates to earn from the operation of a casino at its Aqueduct racetrack in Queens. The draft versions would allow NYRA to repay the advance from that revenue once the casino is up and running.

The state's budget division, however, has raised concerns that the state cannot use that mechanism to advance the funds, according to Charles Hayward, NYRA's chief executive.

"The budget department is seeking some advice from tax attorneys right now, as we understand it," Hayward said.

Hayward has previously said that NYRA will run out of money this summer if the association does not receive the advance. Under an agreement reached with the state in 2008, the legislature is required to provide NYRA with operating funds if the casino was not up and running by the end of March 2009, but the legislature is currently grappling with a $9 billion budget deficit and has shown little outward interest in simply providing the money from the budget.

NYRA is also seeking to obtain legislative approval for the live video-streaming of its races on its website, a practice that is currently illegal without agreement from the state's six offtrack betting corporations. On Tuesday, the State Senate Racing and Wagering Committee approved a bill that would give NYRA the right to stream the races lives, and the bill has since been sent to the Senate Finance Committee.

Hayward said the restriction on streaming live races has cost the association millions of dollars in revenue each year.