03/16/2011 5:09PM

Suffolk OTB gets legislative OK for bankruptcy

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The Suffolk County Legislature in New York State on Wednesday passed a measure that will allow Suffolk County Off-Track Betting Corporation to declare bankruptcy, but the company remains in discussions about whether it will elect to seek the protection of bankruptcy court, according to a spokesperson.

The legislature passed the measure unanimously, and Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy signed the bill following the vote. Officials for Suffolk OTB have said that approval of the measure would be necessary prior to declaring bankruptcy.

Debbie Pfeiffer, Suffolk’s spokeswoman, said that the company is “in consultations with bankruptcy counsel” and is in the process of restructuring its operations.

“It’s important for us to have that tool if we decide to go down that road,” Pfeiffer said, referring to bankruptcy.

Officials for Suffolk OTB have said that the company’s financial situation has deteriorated over the past several years. From 2007 to 2009, wagering through the company’s operations dropped from $188 million to $153 million. Figures for 2010 are not available.

Suffolk has contended that statutory changes are needed to reduce the amount of money the five remaining OTB companies in New York are required to pay to the racing industry. The racing industry has resisted those changes.

In 2009, New York City OTB, once the single largest bet-taker in the U.S., filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. The company shuttered its operations in December of last year after failing to receive concessions from the legislation.