06/30/2006 12:00AM

Sixteen plan to bid for franchise


Sixteen companies - including five of New York's offtrack betting companies - notified a New York committee by a 5 p.m. deadline on Friday that they intend to respond to the committee's request for proposals to bid on the franchise held by the New York Racing Association, according to a list provided by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing late on Friday.

The sixteen companies that notified the committee about their intentions will be the only ones allowed to submit responses to the committee's request for proposals, which was issued three weeks ago.

In alphabetical order, the companies are: Capital District Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., Schenectady, N.Y.; Capital Play Pty Limited, an Australian bookmaking company; Churchill Downs Inc., the racetrack company located in Louisville, Ky.; Empire Racing Associates, a Saratoga Springs-based company that has the support of New York's horsemen; Excelsior Racing Associates, a New York company whose partners include New York Yankees general partner Steve Swindel and the real-estate developer David Cordish; LRW Development, a Las Vegas company owned by Wynn Resorts; Magna Entertainment Corp., the Toronto-based racetrack company; MGM Grand, the Las Vegas-based casino company; Monticello Raceway Management, owner of the Monticello Racetrack in New York; Nassau Regional OTB Corp.; New York City OTB Corp.; the New York Racing Association; Television Games Network; Suffolk Regional OTB Corp.; Western Regional OTB Corp.; and WNY Gaming Associates, a company based in Sanborn, N.Y., whose principals were unidentified.

The bidders will now be required to respond to the request for proposals by Aug. 15. The committee will then review the bids over a 30-day period before issuing its recommendations to Gov. George Pataki and the state legislature by Sept. 15. The governor and both houses of the state legislature will have to approve any new franchise-holder.

NYRA's franchise to operate Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course expires on Dec. 31, 2007. The franchise also includes the right to operate 4,500 slot machines at Aqueduct.

Several partnerships are expected among the identified bidders. NYRA is partners with MGM Grand on the Aqueduct slots casino, and has been having informal talks with the company about a bidding partnership, NYRA officials have said. In addition, the New York OTB companies will likely partner together for a bid.

"I'd expect some consolidation by the time the bids come in," said Robert Williams, the executive director of the committee.

The franchise is not expected to be awarded until the legislature makes significant changes to the racing law, a task that is not expected to be completed this year. Because Pataki will leave office later this year, many racing officials doubt that the current bidding process will result in the final selection of a winner for the franchise, but will rather form the framework for another round of bidding after legislative changes are made.

New York Bidders

Following, in alphabetical order, are the 16 compnaies that will submit bids for the NYRA franchise

* Capital District OTB Corp.
* Capital Play Pty Limited
* Churchill Downs Inc.
* Empire Racing Associates
* Excelsior Racing Associates
* LRW Development
* Magna Entertainment Corp.
* MGM Grand
* Monitcello Raceway
* Nassau Regional OTB Corp.
* New York City OTB Corp.
* New York Racing Association
* Television Games Network
* Suffolk Regional OTB Corp.
* Western Regional OTB Corp.
* WNY Gaming Associates