A measure permitting an upstate off-track betting corporation to run gambling facilities in New York City has been sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his veto or signature.
The bill would essentially allow Catskill Region Off-Track Betting Corp. to pick up the business that was lost a couple years ago when the nation's largest OTB company—the New York City Off-Track Betting Corp.—closed during under the weight of a bankruptcy filing and scuttled a political deal at the state Capitol to let it stay in operation.
It was passed by both houses of the Legislature in June. The governor now has 10 days to sign or veto the bill that was sent to him the afternoon of Dec. 5.
The legislation extends the Catskill area it is now allowed to operate to include the five boroughs of New York City—a region that once had been a fertile area for OTB operations. The closing of NYCOTB in 2010 resulted in the shuttering of nearly 60 betting branches and cost more than 1,000 jobs; it also cut into the revenues of operations such as the New York Racing Association.
The governor has not publicly signaled his intentions for the bill, but it comes at a time when he is already pressing for an expansion of full-blown, Las Vegas-style casinos in New York. It remains to be seen why Cuomo would want to let Catskill OTB enter the New York City market while he is pushing lawmakers—and possibly statewide voters next year—to permit up to seven new casinos in the state, including New York City.
On the other hand, the measure would provide new revenues to the state, which is facing a growing deficit, and pump additional money to NYRA, which the state is now running under a three-year restructuring law approved earlier this fall.
Catskill OTB, a successful venture compared to other off-track businesses in New York, operates in a large area of the southern region of New York State, north of New York City.
The bill has been backed by lawmakers, though, who see it as restoring jobs lost when NYCOTB shut down. The measure includes a variety of restrictions on Catskill's ability to locate betting parlors in New York City, including local approval by a site selection board.