05/06/2008 11:00PM

Aid to offtrack betting company could hurt NYRA


A proposal being discussed by New York state legislators to allow New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. to retain more of its revenue would put in jeopardy a plan by the New York Racing Association to emerge from bankruptcy protection, officials for NYRA said on Wednesday.

The plan would reportedly allow New York City OTB to distribute approximately 20 percent less of its revenue to the state's Thoroughbred and harness industries. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has threatened to close the corporation by mid-June if the state does not authorize some form of financial relief.

For NYRA, the plan would mean a reduction of $12 million to the association and its horsemen, according to Charles Hayward, the president of NYRA. Of that $12 million, $7 million would go to purses, and $5 million would go to the association for operating funds.

On April 28, a federal judge approved a reorganization plan that NYRA submitted to U.S. bankruptcy court. Hayward said the plan did not account for a reduction in payments from New York City OTB.

"If we had to pay out another $5 million a year from our operating cash, the plan wouldn't be feasible, and it couldn't go into effect," Hayward said.

NYRA officials have not been involved in the discussions regarding New York City OTB, Hayward said. NYRA officials plan to relay their concerns regarding the current proposal this week, he said.

Any proposal to restructure New York City OTB's finances must be approved by the state senate, assembly, and governor's office. Officials of the legislative bodies have said that discussions are ongoing, and that no plan has been finalized.