Paterson Takes Another Chance on the OTB

The New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. postponed its plan to shut down Friday because of financial woes and will try once more to work out a reorganization plan to save the bookmaking enterprise.

The OTB board agreed in emergency session to postpone the closing scheduled for the end of the business day, according to a memo to employees. About 800 remaining employees faced layoffs.

Instead, the board will wait until Tuesday's special session of the state Senate. Senators could then vote for a reorganization plan approved by the unions, crafted by Gov. David Paterson and passed in the Assembly in a special session earlier this week.

Paterson said he decided to take another chance on OTB when he learned closing the sprawling enterprise would cost $20 million.

The outcome of the vote is difficult to predict. It likely would require rare bipartisan support to muster the 32 votes needed.

"As the senators are well aware, this plan is not a bailout," said Larry Schwartz, board chairman and Paterson's chief of staff. "Not a single taxpayer dollar is being requested. And when the reorganization plan is in place, NYC OTB will be a profitable, revenue-generating entity for the State of New York; thousands of jobs will be saved; and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars conserved."

The board of the 40-year-old enterprise previously voted to close.

The pending plan is a new business model with concessions by unions and management.

Even if OTB ultimately closes, a limited number of its branches would remain open for six days in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan so customers could cash tickets and vouchers and make account withdrawals. The Manhattan service center would also remain open for up to six weeks for customer transactions.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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