by Paul Post
New York Thoroughbred breeders are applauding state action that prevents bankrupt New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. from showing simulcast signals from out-of-state tracks.
The New York State Racing and Wagering Board has ordered the entity to stop showing races from numerous venues, including Pimlico Race Course, Arlington Park, Calder Race Course, Churchill Downs, and Hollywood Park.
New York City OTB apparently was accepting signals from these tracks without board-approved contracts.
“The board wants to make sure OTB can meet its financial obligations,” spokesman Joseph Mahoney said. “We’re not approving these out-of-state signals for OTB while our review continues.”
At present, New York City OTB only is showing races from two in-state tracks, Belmont Park and Finger Lakes, along with Golden Gate Fields in California, which previously had been approved.
New York City OTB filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in December and threatened to close down altogether early this spring. After deciding at the 11th hour to remain open, it has reduced some statutory payments to New York tracks and breeders as well as state and local government.
“New York City OTB paid the Thoroughbred Breeding Fund [which distributes breeder awards] 31% of the money they owed for the month of April,” said Jeff Cannizzo, executive director of the 1,000-member New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. “This resulted in the fund receiving $100,021.63 out of the $323,796.67 owed, with no certainty of ever receiving [the balance].
“This is blatantly against the intent of the bankruptcy court and OTB’s obligation to keep current with statutory payments. As New York City OTB accounts for 38% of total fund revenue, these continued measures will be a death sentence for the breeding industry in New York.”
New York City OTB also has reduced some payments to the New York Racing Association and owes NYRA $17-million. Cannizzo praised the board’s order.
“Not only is New York City OTB not paying the New York industry for its rights to conduct wagering, they’re paying out-of-state tracks on a regular schedule,” he said. “Simply put, they are using New York horsemen, breeders, and track dollars to keep their business afloat this year. This is yet again another red flag being waived, demonstrating the corruption and misaligned intent of New York City OTB. At some point, we must have a reformed industry model in New York.”
New York City OTB spokesman Ben Branham said the financial impact of the board’s action could not immediately be assessed.
“We are in discussions with the Racing and Wagering Board to rectify the situation,” he said.