Gov. Andrew Cuomo this afternoon approved legislation that paves the way for a state take over of the troubled New York Racing Association, a move that could lead to a major overhaul of the public benefit corporation that has franchise rights and oversees operations at three thoroughbred race tracks.

“New York State’s racing industry is a major economic driver in the state, supporting thousands of jobs and attracting tourists from around the world,” Cuomo said in a statement. “New York taxpayers and the betting public deserve a racing industry that is managed competently and does not neglect the health and safety of the horses. The NYRA Reorganization Board will restore public trust, accountability, and transparency to the racing industry in our state, so New York can continue to offer one of the most exciting, enjoyable, safe horse racing experiences in the nation.”

The legislation, first proposed by Cuomo in May and later approved by the state Legislature, came after top officials at NYRA — including President and CEO Charlie Hayward and counsel Patrick Kehoe — were accused of incorrect payouts on exotic bets.

Allegations of financial mismanagement had dogged NYRA, which operates the race tracks at Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct, before the take out scandal emerged.

In a lengthy report released Friday, the Cuomo administration found that some of the 21 horse deaths that occurred recently at Aqueduct in South Ozone Park may have been preventable.

The new board consists of 17 directors, down from the current 25 members, with seven being appointed by Cuomo. The Republican-led Senate and Demcoratic-controlled Assembly will appoint two directors to the board and five will be picked by the current NYRA board.

Cuomo also has the power to appoint a board chair, which is subject to the board’s approval.

The Post reported last week that the state was considering allowing a private entity to come in and manage Saratoga and Belmont, which administration officials — including the governor — did not ouright deny.