NYRA Chief Pushes Lawmakers for Lower Takeout

While pushing to take over the New York City Off Track Betting Corp., Barry Schwartz has been busily pressing top state lawmakers at the Capitol in Albany to back him on what has become his other chief lobbying mission this year: lowering the takeout at New York racetracks.

The New York Racing Association chairman, interviewed after coming out of a meeting with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, said the takeout issue is a major priority to get accomplished this year. Indeed as a reporter sought to prod him on details about NYRA's bid to purchase NYCOTB, it was the takeout issue that Schwartz most wanted to discuss.

"It has to be done,'' he said, adding the idea has been warmly received by top lawmakers. He wants to jumpstart interest in racing in New York by eventually having the lowest takeout in the nation, he said.

But insiders at the Capitol say the state's off track betting corporations don't look upon Schwartz's idea too kindly because it will lower their cut of wagers. Schwartz has not detailed how much he wants to cut the takeout, which would not necessarily lower the state tax but come from the portion earmarked for the racing association or horsemen.

The current takeout for win, place and show bets is 15%, for exactas and quinellas 20%, and for exotics 25%.