08/29/2007 11:00PM

Panel sets New York franchise bidding discussion

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The New York Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering has scheduled a public meeting on Sept. 12 to discuss the award of the franchise currently held by the New York Racing Association, the chairman of the committee, Sen. William Larkin, said on Thursday.

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is expected to issue his recommendation on how the franchise should be awarded on Sept. 4, but last weekend, Spitzer said that the release of his recommendation may be delayed. Both the governor and the legislature will need to approve any deal to award the franchise.

Jackie Fiore, a spokeswoman for Larkin, said that the meeting was called in order to discuss Spitzer's recommendation. If Spitzer has not released a recommendation by Sept. 12, the committee will still hold its hearing in order to discuss the franchise.

"We expect him to make the recommendation by that date, and if he doesn't, we will continue with our review," Fiore said.

NYRA's franchise to operate Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga and a slot-machine casino at Aqueduct expires at the end of this year. In addition to NYRA, three other companies have expressed an interest in operating the tracks and casino.

Fiore said that Larkin has invited speakers to the meeting, but that his office was not prepared to release a list of invitees.