FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
GOVERNOR PATERSON, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER BRUNO AND ASSEMBLY SPEAKER SILVER ANNOUNCE START OF DISCUSSIONS TO SAVE NYC OFF-TRACK BETTING JOBS
Governor David A. Paterson, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced today that they have directed their staffs to work with Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City (NYC) OTB to craft a solution that would allow NYC OTB to continue operations. The Board of Directors of OTB voted in February to cease operations by June 16, 2008, at which date the Corporation will be insolvent and the City would be required to infuse cash into it in order to continue to operate. The Governor said that discussions have already commenced among the State, New York City, the Legislature and NYC OTB.
“NYC OTB provides good paying jobs to its 1,500 workers,” said Governor Paterson. “Given the current economic downturn, it is especially important that we take steps to ensure the financial viability of this venture because of the importance of these jobs to these 1,500 families and to the broader economy. In addition, OTBs should generate significant excess funds that local governments can use to provide needed services and reduce property taxes.”
Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said: “It is clear that this is an important issue that should be addressed. I agree with Mayor Bloomberg that NYC OTB cannot expect the City to provide financial support during these tenuous economic times. The plan that we adopt should include an alignment of the economic interests of the tracks and the OTBs in order to succeed.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said: “Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee Chair Gary Pretlow, the Assembly Majority and I will work closely with the Governor, the Senate and New York City to address immediate concerns and come up with a plan for the long term viability of OTB. I see no reason why NYC OTB cannot contribute to the revenues of New York City and the State and be a successful operation that continues to provide good jobs for the 1,500 men and women it employs.”
NYC OTB pays out approximately $90 million annually to New York based thoroughbred and harness racing tracks in return for broadcasting live signals of their races at its facilities. In addition, NYC OTB pays approximately $17 million annually in fees and surcharges to New York City and an additional $17 million to New York State.
“By charging less money from NYC OTB while it gets back on its feet financially, all of the entities that benefit from OTB will benefit in the long run,” said Governor Paterson. “I will ask the Legislature to look not only at the short-term fix that will be needed to stabilize OTB’s operations, but at long-term changes that can make all six of the State’s OTBs more profitable and productive. I am confident that with the cooperation of all affected parties, a solution will be reached that puts NYC OTB on sound financial footing in order to avoid the scheduled close-down date in June.”