02/05/2003 12:00AM

Revised slots bill for N.Y.


NEW YORK - New York State Senator Bill Larkin introduced a bill on Wednesday that would change existing legislation to give horsemen and racetracks a much larger share of any proceeds from slot-machine gambling at tracks.

Under the bill, horsemen, breeders, and racetracks would split roughly 35 percent of the proceeds from slot machines, leaving 65 percent for the state. Current legislation calls for the racing industry to get approximately 25 percent of the proceeds.

Larkin, the chairman of the Senate's Racing and Wagering Committee, introduced the bill six days after Gov. George Pataki released a budget proposal that cut out horsemen from the initial proceeds from slots.

Pataki's plan has been criticized by horsemen and the chairman of the New York Racing Association, Barry Schwartz.

Legislation authorizing slots at a handful of Thoroughbred and Standardbred tracks in New York was passed late in 2001, but only one track, Saratoga Raceway, has agreed to install slots under the percentages contained in that bill. The other tracks have said that the state's percentage was too large to justify making any investment in the machines.

Larkin said in a release that his bill would solve the problem by front-loading some of the proceeds to the tracks.

"The problem with the current law is that the racetrack vendors were not given an adequate percentage of revenue early in the program to ease cash flow problems," Larkin said. Larkin said the percentages in his bill could be adjusted "down the road."

Under the terms of the bill, the amount of money that the slot machines would return to bettors would drop from 92 percent to 91 percent, leaving 9 percent of slot-machine handle to be distributed to the state and the racing industry, instead of 8 percent.

Of that money, racetracks would receive approximately 23 percent in the first three years. Horsemen would get approximately 9 percent, and breeders would get 1 percent.

In the first three years, the state lottery commission would get 10 percent, and the state's education fund would get 55 percent, the bill states.

Larkin said the bill could generate $56 million in funds for education in the first year of operation, and $83 million after that.