04/08/2002 11:00PM

Schwartz suggests OTB merger


NEW YORK - Barry Schwartz, the chairman of the New York Racing Association, has asked New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to consider merging New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation with NYRA, Schwartz said on Monday.

"I talked in broad stripes about how I viewed a merger working," Schwartz said, referring to a March 4 letter he sent to Bloomberg. "I think this is something where both of us could prosper."

Schwartz said Bloomberg has not responded to the letter. Last Thursday, Schwartz met with Ray Casey, president of OTB and an appointee of Bloomberg, at Aqueduct, and the merger was a brief topic of the discussion, Schwartz said. Casey was out of town on Monday and Tuesday and unavailable for comment, OTB officials said.

New York City OTB operates 75 betting locations in New York City. It took in just over $1 billion in bets last year.

The letter guarantees the city annual payments from NYRA that are equal to the revenues that OTB produced. The letter also promises the city a cut from the 2,500 gambling machines that may be installed at Aqueduct later this year.