NEW YORK, May 22 (Reuters) - The New York Racing Association has been temporarily placed under state control following the suspension last month of its president over allegations it had short-changed gamblers, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday.
Cuomo said he was dissolving the NYRA’s board and creating a “reorganization board” to search for new leaders of the association, which runs the three largest tracks in the state.
The NYRA has been under scrutiny for the gambling scandal as well as concerns over the rash of horses injured or killed this year at Aqueduct, one of its major race tracks.
Cuomo’s decision to place the association under state control for the next three years comes ahead of the June 9 Belmont Stakes, which is unusually well-anticipated this year because the horse I’ll Have Another has a shot at becoming the first U.S. Triple Crown winner since 1978.
The horse won the first two legs of thoroughbred racing’s coveted Triple Crown - The Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes - earlier this month.
“As the upcoming Belmont Stakes shows, the racing industry is a vital part of New York State’s culture and economy, attracting millions of dollars in tourism revenue from across the nation and supporting thousands of jobs,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The association runs the Aqueduct Racetrack in New York City, Belmont Park in Long Island and Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs.
It suspended Charles Hayward, its president, and Patrick Kehoe, its general counsel, without pay in April after a state body published a report alleging that the association was breaking state law by overcharging bettors.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said they will support the legislation necessary to create the new reorganization board, which will be made up of 17 directors variously nominated by the governor, the senate, the assembly and the current NYRA board.
“It is important to maintain the integrity of the sport so that those who come out to enjoy these events are not short-changed or treated unfairly,” Silver said in a statement. (Editing by Paul Thomasch and Philip Barbara)