04/16/2003 11:00PM

OTB won't open Easter


NEW YORK - New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation has decided to keep its betting parlors closed this Easter Sunday, seven days after the company disregarded a warning from state regulators not to open on Palm Sunday.

New York City OTB officials said they made the decision not to open on Sunday after taking criticism from state regulators about the Palm Sunday opening. State law makes it illegal for any racing association to conduct parimutuel wagering on Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday, and Christmas. The law does not specifically mention offtrack betting companies.

NYCOTB, which is owned by the city, opened 37 of its 75 parlors on Palm Sunday and took in approximately $1.7 million in bets.

Michael Hoblock, the chairman of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, said that the board most likely will not decide on a punishment for the OTB's Palm Sunday opening until next week. State law allows the board to impose $5,000 fines for violations.