The Monday meeting of the New York State Gaming Commission did not disappoint if you wondered whether they would adhere to their past performances.
There were two items of interest to thoroughbred racing participants and fans that could be discussed. One was a proposed regulation that sought to weaken the existing rule that was adopted following an increase in racing fatalities at Aqueduct in late 2011 to early 2012. The other was the Commission’s response to the sudden and unexpected resignation of Chris Kay as President and CEO of the New York Racing Association.
As usual, the Commission tried to start the meeting about 40 minutes after the scheduled start, but then spent an additional 10 minutes working out audio and video transmission issues.
The regulation under consideration concerned the “purse-to-price ratio” in claiming races that I wrote about here and here. I also submitted the only public comment on the proposal. Because the Gaming Commission had already approved the rule for adoption prior to the expiration of the legally-required public comment, and prior to submission of my comment, they had to “consider” my comment at the Monday meeting.
If you are interested in the Commission’s “discussion” of my comment, you can replay it on the Commission’s website. Don’t worry, it will not take long. It begins at the 1:20 mark of the meeting and ends about four minutes later. The “discussion” is a reading of a prepared statement by the Commission’s chairperson that is simply incoherent.
It addresses none of the issues I raised, including that it was based on a secret memo by Dr. Scott Palmer that the Commission will not release, as well as unidentified supporters of the rule change, and their reason for changing it. Nor was there any recognition of the fact that the regulatory change is contrary to the report of a Task Force Report on the Aqueduct fatalities, as well as Governor Cuomo’s order in 2012 to implement a stricter version of the regulation.
At least that part of the agenda lasted for more than four minutes. There was no mention of the fact that the head of NYRA was apparently suddenly forced out of his position by NYRA’s Board of Directors. I say “apparently” because there has been no official explanation for the “resignation” of Kay that the Board accepted “effective immediately.”
David Grening of The Daily Racing Form has reported that the resignation was made because Kay had been using NYRA employees to do work at his private residence in Saratoga Springs. I have seen nothing that disputes Grening’s report.
But the Gaming Commission is one of two government agencies in New York that has legal oversight responsibility for the actions of NYRA. They are seemingly content to blithely ignore what is corruption in New York’s premier thoroughbred operation.
Even if Grening’s report is accurate, and cites the real – and only – reason for the termination of Kay’s employment, there are more questions that need to be addressed. For starters, how does an entity such as NYRA that has a history of prior internal control issues allow such behavior to occur? Were any other management officials complicit in this? The employees had to report to someone who approved their time slips.
Unfortunately, the Gaming Commission has a history in which transparency and accountability are rarely present, as exemplified by these two matters,