12/09/2010 9:02AM

New York hearing will explore merging regional OTBs into one entity


In the wake of the shutdown of New York City Off-Track Betting Corp., a hearing will be held next week to explore the possibility of merging the state's five remaining regional OTB's into one entity.

Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow, the chairman of the Committee on Racing and Wagering, has called for the hearing, which will be held Wednesday in Albany.

"The purporse of this hearing is to evaluate the economic impact on merging all of the regional OTB corporations into one single entity in order to cut duplicable adminstrative and operating expenses, maximize the benefit these entities were originally created to provide, and to ensure that the quality of New York's racing product remains intact," Pretlow said in his notice of the public hearing.

Many in the racing industry have long called for the consolidation of New York's OTB system, but given that the system has been a haven for political-appointed jobs, the matter has never advanced.

In recent legislation put forth by Senate Republicans, the five regional OTBs were seeking similar concessions from the racing industry and state that would have been provided to New York City OTB in legislation passed by the Assembly, which has been in bankruptcy since December 2009. Among those concessions were reductions in payments to state and local governments as well as to the racing industry.

The New York Racing Association, whose races the state's OTB network needs to survive, claimed that passage of the Senate Republican bill -which never made it to the floor for a vote - would have put NYRA out of business.