12/16/2009 12:00AM

New York OTBs found to owe harness tracks

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The New York State Racing and Wagering Board on Tuesday ordered four of the state's offtrack betting corporations to pay the state's harness tracks millions of dollars in disputed fees, according to officials of the board.

The ruling, by a vote of 2-1, involved an interpretation of the financial obligations of the four OTB companies under a statute passed in 2003 allowing for nighttime simulcasts of Thoroughbred races. The board sided with the state's harness tracks in interpreting the statute in a way that entitles the tracks to higher payments from four of the state's six OTB companies for the years 2004-2008, the officials said.

The affected OTB companies were New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation, Suffolk OTB, Nassau OTB, and Capital OTB, according to the officials.

New York City OTB filed for bankruptcy two weeks ago under Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code, a little-used section reserved for municipalities. In filings with the court, New York City OTB listed Yonkers Raceway as its largest creditor, owed $18 million. A large portion of that debt, however, is related to a legal case that New York City OTB lost after it withheld payments to Yonkers while the track was closed for renovations in 2005 and 2006.