R.I.P. OTB

Leave a comment
THE QUEENS COURIER/Photo by Noah Rosenberg
All 66 OTB betting parlors in New York City may look like this, after legislators went home without acting on a bailout.THE QUEENS COURIER/Photo by Noah Rosenberg
All 66 OTB betting parlors in New York City may look like this, after legislators went home without acting on a bailout.

In what may have been the last chance for 1,350 employees of the bankrupt New York City Off Track Betting Corporation (OTB), Albany legislators adjourned and went home for the weekend – with Sunday being their last day.

On Wednesday, April 14, Governor David Paterson issued a statement.

“Today, after weeks of intensive negotiations with Senate and Assembly leadership, I submitted agreed upon legislation that provided for an interim solution to keep New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation (NYCOTB) operating. This plan included no additional commitment of taxpayer dollars. However, the Legislature adjourned before acting on the bill.”

The OTB Board of Directors has already said the beleaguered bookmaker would shut down no later than close of business on Sunday, April 18.

According to reports, legislative leaders, management and the union representing OTB workers still had disagreements on terms and conditions that would enable it to continue operating under protection of a Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing.

“We were unable to reach a three-way agreement,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Privately, sources close to legislative negotiations indicated that promises made by OTB management to employees regarding raises and bonuses were “not something [legislative leaders] could go with” in light of the state borrowing which would be needed to keep OTB afloat.

“A lot of members [in the Senate] weren’t that supportive of the city OTB to begin with,” said one source. “How can you take in a billion dollars a year and still lose money? When the retirees’ union [DC37] withdrew their support for the deal – that was it,” the source said.

“I am deeply saddened that we could not find a workable solution during this fiscal crisis to save any of these jobs,” Paterson said. “I will continue to work with my legislative partners and the stakeholders to keep racing viable in New York State.”

The governor has no plans to call the Legislature back into session to deal with the OTB question according to Paterson spokesperson Morgan Hook.