Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to invest in Belmont Park racetrack on Long Island could mean the end of horse racing in Queens. Some activists say the state should not be in the business of horse racing at all.
Hochul wants to go big on horse racing by propping up the Nassau County racetrack. The governor’s budget calls for floating $455 million in government backed bonds for an overhaul of the racetrack.
Critics say that’s too much money for what amounts to a dying industry.
Since 2008, the state has subsidized the horse racing industry to the tune of nearly $3 billion, as attendance has dropped off sharply.
What You Need To Know
- Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to invest in Belmont Park racetrack on Long Island could mean the end of horse racing in Queens
- The governor’s budget calls for floating $455 million in government backed bonds for an overhaul of the racetrack
- Since 2008, the state has subsidized the horse racing industry to the tune of nearly $3 billion, as attendance has dropped off sharply
The payments were intended to help the New York Racing Association “achieve stability, and begin operating in their own,” Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat, said at an Albany rally Wednesday. “Yet 15 years and $2.9 Billion later, NYRA is still not able to hold its own, and keeps coming back to the state looking for another handout.”
Attendance at Belmont Park has fallen by 88% over the past four decades. But supporters say the overhaul would make it a destination with new shops and restaurants to lure bettors.
“Well, the alternative is to have a site that deteriorates, loses value, has a detrimental effect on the surrounding neighborhood,” Hochul told reporters last week. “And it also helps become the death of an industry, which is synonymous with New York State, the racing industry. One part of the Triple Crown. A lot of people come to New York, spend money here, focus on this, and I’m not willing to give that up.”
The Hochul plan would also call for abandoning horse racing at the Aqueduct Race Track in Queens. Local leaders are ok with that, if neighboring Resorts World Casino can snag one of the new downstate casino licenses and expand its footprint with table games and more.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo, a Queens Democrat, is the chair of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee in the state Senate.
“If you build a site that people are going to be attracted to because it has great amenities, restaurants, love horse racing, to that is very entertaining,” Addabbo says. “So, people will still go for the socialization factor. And there is a population that still likes to get out and go and does not do electronic devices, or mobile devices. So, I still think there is a place for Belmont to exist.”
Another component in all of this is that activists have raised serious concerns about how the horses are treated. Some say the racing regiment is a cruel one for the animals.