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NYRA backs contract award to GBE pending review of bid process

19th June 2013 8:10 am GMT

The New York Racing Association (NYRA) has confirmed that it will move forward with its agreement to improve its online betting platform with Ladbrokes’ Global Betting Exchange (GBE), but has not ruled out initiating a new bidding process following a review of complaints from the state's Franchise Oversight Board.

The NYRA last week selected GBE, recently acquired by UK bookmaker Ladbrokes, to develop an advanced wagering services and technology platform in order to provide technological upgrades to its existing advanced deposit wagering operations.

The state’s Franchise Oversight Board (FOB) claims however that the contract was “unjustified” after listing a number of complaints relating to the competitive procurement process.

In making its determination, the FOB said that the NYRA failed to follow its Purchasing Policy and Procedures Manual (approved by the FOB in 2009) which outlines the process for conducting a competitive procurement process using a Request for Quotations (RFQ).

This would include a number of specifications such as the preparation of the solicitation document, review of the bids for responsiveness and the evaluation of bid responses among other things.

The FOB claims that in developing the RFQ and the evaluation instrument, the NYRA failed to adhere to its own processes.

In particular, the FOB said that the RFQ failed to set forth the minimum qualifications, meaning that no bidders should have been disqualified. In addition, the RFQ failed to define the method of the contract award such as the criteria to be considered and the weights to be applied to the technical criteria.

“Had NYRA followed its Purchasing Policy in developing an RFQ document and making an award, bidders would have been ranked, based on their final scores, and NYRA, in accordance with its Purchasing Policy, could have decided not to make an award if it was not in its best interest to do so,” said the FOB in a statement.

The FOB said that once the NYRA began looking at other strategies for an advanced technology platform, which included conversations with other track operators about the possibility of forming an industry cooperative approach, it had an obligation to undertake another competitive bidding process and to set out new requirements in a newly developed RFQ.

“In conclusion, since the bidder pool may now have changed completely due to the new approach, it is not feasible to rationally state that GBE is the “best” company for this platform development,” said the FOB. “Therefore, NYRA has not sufficiently demonstrated that no other company in the industry is capable of providing this service.”

In a board meeting earlier this week, the NYRA said that it engaged in a “spirited” discussion over its contract with GBE, and has now approved a motion to move forward with the GBE deal, subject to a review of material that will be delivered to NYRA’s Audit & Compliance Committee and Finance Committee Chairs.

“If the Chairs agree that there was a significant variance between NYRA’s procurement policy and the actions taken in this case, NYRA will move forward with a rebid,” said the association in a statement. “If not, the existing contract with GBE will be executed.”

Meanwhile, the NYRA has appointed Christopher Kay as its new president and CEO following unanimous approval by the association’s board of directors.

Kay will begin his new role on July 1st, having most recently served as chief operating officer for The Trust for Public Land, where he oversaw the operations of the land conservation organization’s headquarters and 37 field offices.

Prior to that, Kay was a consultant to Universal Parks & Resorts, serving as its managing director of International Business Development.  From 2001-2006, Kay served as the COO for Toys 'R' Us and prior to that he was the retailer's executive vice president of operations and general counsel.
 
NYRA Chair David J. Skorton said: “After a careful search involving many highly qualified candidates, we are delighted to select Chris as our new president and CEO. His wide range of expertise and skills - including experience in the legal, regulatory and corporate governance environments - will serve him extremely well in his new position at NYRA.”

Following his appointment, Kay added: “I’m honored by the confidence expressed in me today by the NYRA board. Thoroughbred racing is an important part of the lives of so many - including the hundreds of thousands of fans who have loyally supported us through the years. I will work hard to earn their trust and respect as we embark upon an extremely important chapter of NYRA’s history.
 
“Working with the talented professionals at NYRA and its dedicated and experienced board, I anticipate an exciting and successful future for our sport.”

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