12/06/2010 5:46PM

Different New York City OTB bill introduced in Senate


As the self-imposed deadline for the New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. to close quickly approaches, a bill has been introduced in the state Senate that differs from the one passed in the Assembly last week in that it extends all provisions given to bankrupt NYCOTB to the state’s other regional OTB networks, which could cost the racing industry millions of dollars in revenue.

Should the Senate pass that bill Tuesday, it would require the Assembly to return to Albany and vote on it, something that is not expected to happen. In essence, if the Senate does not vote on the same bill the Assembly passed last week - one that has the support of Gov. David Paterson - it is likely that NYCOTB will shut down at the close of business Tuesday.

NYCOTB had threatened to close last Friday, but its board of directors voted to remain open until Tuesday upon learning that the Senate would come back to vote on a bill, something it had failed to do last week.

The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Andrew Lanza, a Republican from Staten Island, includes all the provisions passed by the Assembly but broadens them by bringing parity with regional OTBs outside of New York City.

“This is a unique opportunity to get a positive result for OTB, the racing industry, and for taxpayers,” Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos said in a press release. “Rather than focus on a narrow solution that applies only to New York City, we should pass our comprehensive bill that saves jobs and generates more revenue to benefit local taxpayers in the suburbs and upstate.”

The Senate bill has been criticized by the racing industry because it further reduces payments it would receive from the state’s OTB corporations by an additional $12 million annually. The bill passed in the Assembly already reduces the amount of money NYCOTB pays the industry by as much as $30 million over the first two years of its reorganization plan to come out of bankruptcy.

Rick Violette, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and a member of the board of directors of the New York Racing Association, said “submitting a bill that is different than what has already been passed by the Assembly effectively will shut down OTB. It is not expected that the Assembly would come back to address a different bill and certainly wouldn’t pass the additions made by the Senate.”

One point that would cost the NYRA significant revenue is a stipulation that requires NYRA to provide its simulcast signal of all races run at its tracks to NYCOTB at no cost and to all other OTBs at the statutory rate with no additional contractual fees.