A panel charged with making recommendations about New York’s troubled off-track betting system will meet at least once more before submitting its report to Gov. David Paterson and state legislators.
The Task Force on the Future of Off-Track Betting heard testimony from about 50 entities, including racetrack operators, during five public hearings this year. The group plans to meet again in Manhattan before Thanksgiving to decide on its next step. The task force may file its report or prepare a draft report, take comments, and submit a final document early next year.
“We were going to meet Friday, but we got sidetracked by the big Yankees parade in lower Manhattan,” said Paul Van Lind, chairman of the task force. “We couldn’t get access to the space we wanted. We’re aiming at submitting our report to the legislature in January. I’d like to hear comments first and then submit it, just to give everybody a final say.”
The panel is considering a range of options, from having New York’s racetracks take over off-track betting, perhaps on a regional basis, to merging the six off-track betting corporations into one entity. The main goal is to promote shared services to eliminate costly duplication of services and have the tracks and off-track betting work together instead of competing against one another.
In July 2008, the state took over New York City Off Track Betting to prevent its closure in the midst of a major cash-flow crisis. Current debt totals about $75-million, including $13.2-million owed to the New York Racing Association.
On Tuesday, the New York Post reported that New York City OTB is preparing a Chapter 9 bankruptcy reorganization plan that would result in the closure of about 45 branches, eliminating about 550 betting clerk jobs through attrition or buyouts. The plan also calls for OTB to float $250-million in bonds to meet its obligations, the Post reported. (For the Post’s story, click here.)
“The situation continues to be dire,” New York City OTB Chairman Meyer “Sandy” Frucher said Tuesday. “We’ll have a plan by the end of the month. Chapter 9 is certainly a very serious option.”
He declined to confirm if the closures and job cuts reported in the Post’s story are accurate.