by Tom Precious
New York lawmakers are rushing to halt a 1% takeout increase on out-of-state pari-mutuel wagers before a law kicks in next week authorizing the higher levels.
The across-the-board takeout boost on Thoroughbred wagers made at OTBs and tracks in New York was part of a deal last year to try to keep New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg from shutting down the New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. State officials floated the higher takeout as a way to bring upward of $5 million in additional revenue for the city in return for NYCOTB remaining solvent.
But in June, the state Legislature authorized the state to take over NYCOTB from the city. However, the higher takeout provision was not struck from the final piece of legislation, and now the Legislature is pushing to rescind the increase before it takes effect March 15.
Officials say it could create chaos for the OTBs and tracks with the out-of-state venues, upsetting existing simulcast contracts and possibly setting off retaliation against New York races simulcast in other states.
The Assembly passed the measure March 2 to keep the takeout levels at their current levels and the legislation has now moved through two Senate committees and is heading to the floor for a full vote.
The looming takeout measure, if not repealed, would boost levies across the board, depending on the tracks and types of wagers. For example, the takeout would go from 15% to 16% on on-track super exotic bets.
"The proposal to increase the takeout was part of a package of suggested actions constructed to prevent New York City OTB from closing down. The package was not enacted. Accordingly, these provisions are no longer necessary,’’ states a memo by the bill’s sponsor, Assembly Racing Committee Chairman Gary Pretlow, accompanying the Assembly bill.