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Saturday, June 14, 2008

In An OTB State of Mind

- A few thoughts on the New York City OTB deal-or-no-deal before I'm hauled off to Fire Island today (and amidst a serious case of blogging burnout which I fear is going to require some significant time away from the keyboard):

- Mayor Bloomberg, who conveniently ignored the city's revenues from the OTB surcharge in making his case that the operation was a financial drain, appears to have overplayed his hand. Now that the state wants to step in and take OTB over, Mayor Mike is crying about having the surcharge money taken away and threatening to close the shops anyway. It would not be the first time that Bloomberg has come out on the short end in Albany after being perceived as arrogant.

- I'd like to say here that the stalemate shows that the racing industry does indeed have some clout in Albany. The plan backed by the Mayor, which would have cut fees to NYRA and the horsemen, was strongly opposed by both groups; and the latter at least does have some friends in Albany like Joe Bruno and Gary Pretlow. However, I suspect that the problems regarding NYRA's bankruptcy plan that would have resulted, and the opposition from the politically connected OTB's outside of NYC, were probably bigger factors.

- I think it's rather amazing that we're now hearing the governor of New York seriously mention the concept of "overhauling" the OTB's, and talking about consolidation and efficiency. What is the world coming to? I guess we have Mayor Bloomberg to thank. Just the fact that the state would move NYCOTB's offices to Aqueduct under its takeover plan is something that was hard to imagine just a few months ago. If consolidation ever becomes a reality, then the one percent across the board increase in takeout which would accompany the state takeover (and which would sunset in two years, presumably when slots will be on line), might be a small price for horseplayers to ultimately pay.

- Paterson's appointment of State Senator John Sabini as the new head of the State Racing and Wagering Board goes deeper than merely finding an interested party to head that crucial commission. Democratic party officials in Queens county were backing another candidate to run for his seat. So the appointment, if approved by Bruno and Silver, would allow Sabini to gracefully walk away from the race, and avoid a contentious interparty squabble and primary, thus furthering the Democrats' goal of taking the State Senate in November.


Anonymous said...


I find It sad that you think the increase in takeout is acceptable.

Most of your viewers lose money every year because of the HIGH takeout.

Expect them to lose more now.

Poker anyone!

Anonymous said...

The higher takeout is an unacceptable solution to bail out OTB. My NYRA bankroll will be under a "sunset" provision as well.

If OTB is restructuring and cutting costs, why do they need more money from their customers?

Why will I have to pay more to OTB to use my NYRA account or to bet on-track?

My level of play will be reduced.
I might reconsider if they promise to use some of the money to fix the plumbing at Belmont.

Anonymous said...

Anytime the government runs a business it is doomed to failure. Government keeps bailing irself out with higher taxes (in this case takeout). Sort of like solving the energy problem by taxing the oil companies "excess profits". I would like to know what the term "excess" means in this case. The government makes more off oil than any private company.

The US Senate dinning hall(run by the Senate) is broke and needs an infusion of funds. They may privatize it to improve the food, lowercost, etc.

Bob from NJ

Anonymous said...

What this in-your-face, then about-face, and now face-off proves is that these “stakeholders” really need our money, even though they behave as if they don’t want it.

Surely this latest takeout increase will be the final straw on the NYRA horseplayer’s back.

What better opportunity for bettors to demonstrate their collective clout than to close their wallets when the doors open with this increase.

Not only would that get the plumbing fixed at Belmont, it would make the industry start listening to horseplayers as well as horsemen and breeders. It might also get the attention of the Whitfield committee.