04/14/2010 11:00PM

New York OTB talks continue


Negotiations on a short-term rescue plan for the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation continued on Thursday without any solid resolution, according to officials involved in the process.

The discussions are taking place amid a threat by the corporation to shut down at the close of business on Sunday unless an agreement can be worked out that would allow the company to retain a larger share of revenue as it reorganizes under the protection of Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Last week, the corporation's board passed a resolution postponing by one week a plan to shut down at the close of business on April 11. On Thursday afternoon, the corporation scheduled another board meeting on Saturday morning, when the board will likely vote on whether to postpone the closing further.

David Vermillion, a spokesman for OTB, said on Thursday that talks continued "among a lot of people involved in the process" in the hope that the outline of an acceptable agreement could be reached prior to the Saturday board meeting. New York's legislature recessed on Wednesday and does not plan to come back to session until Monday. The legislature would have to approve a change in revenue share.

Most stakeholders in the harness and Thoroughbred racing industries agreed on Wednesday to a plan that would have allowed New York City OTB to cut its payments to the racing industries by 15 percent for at least one year. The OTB's unionized mutuel employees, however, withdrew their support for the plan because of objections to provisions regarding severance and pension payments, according to officials involved.

In addition, New York state's other five offtrack betting companies had begun pushing for concessions as part of the plan as well, according to officials. Specifically, the offtrack betting companies wanted to suspend certain payments to harness tracks, the same deal being offered to New York City OTB.

Also, the plan would have allowed New York City OTB to cut its payments to New York City by 75 percent and to keep the money from unclaimed tickets. In addition, the New York Racing Association, which operates Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga, and which is struggling with its own financial problems, would have received an advance of $17 million for operating cash.