NY Lawmaker Uses Derby to Push City OTB

Assemblyman Micah Kellner wants wagering to return to six New York City taverns.

A New York lawmaker May 4 said he will introduce legislation authorizing off-track betting at New York City bars that offered it before New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. went bust and closed in 2010.

Democratic Assemblyman Micah Kellner of Manhattan said the bill would require a portion of pari-mutuel revenue to support public education in the state. Kellner held a press conference at Playwright Irish Pub, which he said handled about $4 million a year before the plug was pulled on OTB operations.

"New York's students are being scratched from the race for a better education because government leaders can't even get out of the starting gate when it comes to maximizing revenue for our public schools," Kellner said. "It's time to step up the pace to maximize this sizeable potential revenue source for our city's public schools.

"With countless New Yorkers seeking to place casual bets legally and simply at their local neighborhood bar, New York State needs to take the bit between its teeth and move to allow pari-mutuel machines back into the taverns where they were previously operated without incident."

Keller picked the day of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) to make his point.

There were six taverns that offered pari-mutuel wagering in the city. Kellner said the Kentucky Derby alone generated $5 million in handle. Estimated wagering at the six taverns was $165 million a year. Under the Kellner bill, 44% of revenue would go to schools.

The New York Racing Association in 2012 proposed having OTB operations in 40 bars and restaurants under a three-year-plan. No action has been taken on the NYRA proposal.