Updated on 08/08/2011 4:38PM

Churchill Downs Inc. to open phone-betting center in New York

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.  - Churchill Downs Inc. will open a call center for its account-wagering operation in Amherst, N.Y., according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and racing officials, in a move designed to relieve political pressure on a Churchill customer, the New York Racing Association.

The call center will employ 60 people, according to Julie Koenig, a spokeswoman for Churchill, and will likely open late in 2011. More importantly to NYRA, the call center will serve to counter criticism of the association after it reached an agreement earlier this year with Churchill to take over the operation of its account-wagering service, NYRA Rewards.

"I am pleased that we were able to bring these jobs back to New York," said Cuomo, in a release. "The proposal to move these jobs out of state should never have happened."

Churchill Downs's account-wagering operations are based in Oregon. NYRA reached the agreement with Churchill to take over the operations shortly after the December shutdown of New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation, when handle through NYRA Rewards skyrocketed as bettors sought out new account-wagering outlets to take their wagers.

NYRA is operating under a 25-year franchise agreement with the state, and the agreement gives an oversight board the power to recommend that the franchise be revoked. During a meeting earlier this year, members of the oversight board had been critical of NYRA's decision to contract with Churchill Downs, citing the potential in-state job losses.