New York City OTB President Resigns

Ex-Magna Entertainment official named to head off-track betting entity.

The financially struggling New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. has accepted the resignation of its long-time president and quickly filled his job with a replacement who will be paid nearly 10 times as much.

Raymond Casey, president of the nation’s largest OTB for the past eight years, offered his resignation to the group’s new chairman, Larry Schwartz, who is also the top adviser to New York Gov. David Paterson.

"I want to thank Ray Casey for his service," Schwartz said July 7 at an OTB board meeting.

But the salary given to his replacement, Greg Rayburn, was sharply criticized by board member Steve Newman. The board member said Rayburn will make $125,000 a month, which he said is about equal to six weeks of salary made by Casey. Newman called the payment a concern for an OTB in financial trouble—it is still operating under federal bankruptcy reorganization—and sought to put a two-month window on Rayburn’s hiring to give time for the board to reconsider the matter.

The resolution was struck down.

Schwartz criticized Newman, saying he had misrepresented Rayburn’s situation and was "unfair" to the new president and chief executive officer. "In very short order you will be proven wrong," Schwartz told Newman. He said Rayburn is "going to be the solution for the health and future success of this corporation."

Newman said he is also worried the salary for Rayburn could be a precursor for other big pay spikes for new people Schwartz may want to bring onto the struggling OTB.

State and NYCOTB officials sought to portray Rayburn’s appointment as short-term, though they were unwilling to put a precise timetable to his term. Rayburn’s corporate restructuring work has included the Magna reorganization completed earlier this year.

"The nature of the crisis demands a short engagement and fast results. We feel confident that Mr. Rayburn has the experience, talent and reputation to deliver a timely reorganization plan that NYCOTB’s Board of Directors, its creditors and the court will accept," NYCOTB board member Anthony Bergamo said of the federal bankruptcy court case.

NYCOTB officials said in a statement that Rayburn’s salary is "effectively being paid" by its bankruptcy court creditors.

New York Racing Association officials, who have routinely criticized NYCOTB for its spending over the years, were included in a press release issued by NYCOTB praising the appointment of Rayburn. NYRA is NYCOTB’s largest creditor.

C. Steven Duncker, NYRA’s chairman, said in the statement that NYRA "fully supports" the Rayburn appointment. "His extensive experience of improving the operations of troubled companies across a range of industries gives us confidence that he will implement a viable plan of reorganization for NYCOTB that is mutually beneficial for the state of New York and the thoroughbred racing industry," Duncker said.