Deal to Save NYCOTB Could Be in Place
by Tom Precious
Date Posted: 6/4/2008 6:16:02 PM
Last Updated: 6/5/2008 11:16:14 AM

A deal to keep New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. from shuttering could be at hand, according to the head of the state Assembly’s racing committee.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, a Westchester County Democrat, said the deal, being discussed into the night of June 4, would permit NYCOTB to restructure the way in which it shares revenue with the New York Racing Association, other tracks, and the state’s Thoroughbred breeding fund.

For NYRA, it would mean a loss of about $12 million in OTB distributions. But Pretlow said NYRA would be “made whole" by a side provision raising the pari-mutuel takeout on bets, which he said would bring NYRA enough revenue to make up for the OTB revenue distribution change.

Pretlow said a deal needs to happen soon because there is increasing talk of some kind of job action by NYCOTB workers June 7 during the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Such a move by the 1,200 workers, who were all sent layoff notices by NYCOTB, could have a serious financial effect on the Belmont revenue picture.

Pretlow said the compromise being negotiated would ensure that NYRA’s current Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding is not disrupted. NYRA claims a loss of $12 million would jeopardize its attempt to emerge from bankruptcy protection.

“We can’t upset the NYRA bankruptcy," Pretlow said.

Despite some progress, Pretlow had harsh words for NYCOTB, which he said is not losing the money it claims it is each year. “We gave them a plan that worked, and he rejected it,’’ Pretlow said of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “I think the city thinks they have us over a barrel" because of the upcoming Belmont Stakes, the lawmaker said. “I don’t believe the city is negotiating in good faith."

Pretlow said officials also believe the state can come in and take over NYCOTB if talks break down and the city tries to shut it down later this month.



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