Governor Open to Options to Save OTB

New York Gov. David Paterson said all options – including a takeover by the state or the New York Racing Association -are on the table if a deal is not struck by this weekend (June 14-15) to keep open the New York City Off-Track Betting Corp.

“I don’t know if we can beat the deadline,’’ Paterson told reporters June 11 about Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s threat to shutter the NYCOTB June 15 if a new revenue sharing structure is not agreed to by the state and city.

The mayor the day before signaled he would be open to a state takeover if an agreement does not happen. Bloomberg said city finances will no longer be used to prop up the NYCOTB, and he wants a change in the revenue sharing system by which proceeds of bets are distributed to various entities, including the state, NYRA, and a Thoroughbred breeding fund. NYRA said it will result in at least a $12-million cut in revenues if the mayor’s plan is approved.

State officials said they have devised a series of different ways in which to make the NYCOTB’s finances whole without necessarily cutting money to the other groups. One idea calls for increasing the takeout on in- and out-of-state tracks. But Bloomberg has been steadfast that the structure of the system change.

Asked about word that has spread through the Capitol in recent days of a takeover by the state or NYRA of NYCOTB if the mayor goes ahead with his threat, Paterson said, “Because the urgency of the situation, there’s no option that I won’t explore at this point.’’

Sources say Nassau County Off Track Betting Corp. has also been making quiet overtures to officials in Albany that it could step in and take over NYCOTB if the corporation closes.

Earlier, on an Albany radio station, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, blasted Bloomberg and said the state has come up with several ways in which to solve the problem that have been dismissed by the city. “The mayor is holding 1,500 workers hostage by threatening their dismissal,’’ Silver said.

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