ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued to target the New York Racing Association on Monday, saying legislative action is being considered to end what he calls a troubled history.
On Friday, NYRA fired its $475,000-a-year CEO and its $423,000-a-year counsel. That came after a critical report by a state oversight board about $8.5 million in winnings that weren't paid to bettors. The state Franchise Oversight Board is investigating what the former officers had called an error in the percentage of "takeouts" from the winnings for governments and the racing industry.
NYRA is a private entity that holds a 25-year franchise to operate thoroughbred racing at the Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct race tracks on state land.
"The last episode with their CEO last week ... really caused the Legislature to take note and the executive to take note, and we are meeting literally as we speak," Cuomo told reporters. "We are discussing possible legislative reform to NYRA. NYRA has a troubled past ... it seems like there is a never-ending list of the problems at NYRA."
NYRA spokesman Dan Silver declined comment.
The NYRA board of directors said Friday it is cooperating with "ongoing governmental inquiries relating to the circumstances surrounding the takeout issue."
NYRA has held the franchise since 1955, and Cuomo said he isn't sure if the state can simply take it away. The most recent extension of the franchise in 2008 came amid similar concerns over NYRA, but was approved when NYRA agreed to end its disputed claim to ownership of the race track properties.
NYRA employs thousands at the tracks and is a major employer in several legislators' districts. It provides racing that is bet on worldwide, in part to benefit government and the racing industry.
"I don't know that NYRA can lose the franchise," Cuomo said. "There is a contract ... the question is how you make it better."