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December 28, 2009

DiNapoli Subpoenas NYRA Records

“Same old NYRA in new sheep’s clothing,
trying to shortchange taxpayers again”

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today subpoenaed records from the New York Racing Association (NYRA) after it denied the Comptroller’s Office access to its financial records.

“Less than six months ago, NYRA said it was financially stable,” DiNapoli said. “Now NYRA says without VLT money it may not be able to stay in operation until the Belmont Stakes. In the meantime, it’s been trying to hide its books from my auditors. It’s the same old NYRA in new sheep’s clothing, trying to shortchange taxpayers again.

“NYRA operates for the benefit of New York. Taxpayers have a right to know what’s going on, and we're going to audit NYRA and find out.”

In accordance with state legislation enacted in 2008, NYRA reconstituted itself as a not-for-profit corporation in order to gain a new 25-year franchise to operate the state’s thoroughbred racetracks. Under the franchise agreement between NYRA and the state, state statutes governing NYRA as well language in the State Constitution, DiNapoli has the authority to examine the books and accounts of NYRA relating to its financial operations as well as the annual financial statements and yearly audits of its outside auditors.

DiNapoli’s audit will examine the millions of dollars in state payments made to NYRA over the past couple years and monies owed the state by NYRA.

To enable NYRA’s emergence from bankruptcy in 2008, the state made a direct payment to NYRA of at least $105 million. Further, pursuant to the 2008 legislation, the state has directed 14 percent to 16 percent of revenues from Aqueduct video lottery terminals, once they are operational, to help NYRA fund its operations.

Prior Comptroller audits have found that NYRA failed to pay the state nearly $54 million in franchise fees from 2000 to 2005.


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