04/02/2007 12:00AM

Panel proposes new OTB split


New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation should be allowed to retain a larger share of its revenue at the expense of the racing industry in order to improve its poor financial performance, according to the recommendations of a study commissioned by the city-owned OTB company released on Monday.

The study, conducted by Boston Consulting Group, said that the offtrack betting company's contribution to the racing industry should be cut because racetracks in New York are flush with money from slot machines. All of New York's racetracks, with the exception of those run by the New York Racing Association, have installed slot machines in the past five years, and NYRA's Aqueduct is expected to open a slot-machine parlor within the next several years.

The study also said that state legislators should consider a merger of the offtrack betting company with the operator of the New York Racing Association's franchise, which includes the right to operate Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga, and the Aqueduct casino. Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the state legislature are hoping to name a successor to NYRA by the end of the year, when the franchise expires.

The idea of merging New York City OTB with the state's Thoroughbred racing operator has been floated for the past decade, but New York City OTB was never completely receptive to the idea. The company has been losing money for several years, though still making payments to the city, and representatives of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg have said that Bloomberg would support a merger provided the city was compensated.

New York City OTB Corp., which owns and operates all the offtrack betting parlors in New York's five boroughs, pays approximately 9 percent of its handle to the state's racing industry and its regulation, according to the study. The study said that the current percentage is roughly double that of what OTB paid from 1974 to 1981.