Veto: Catskill OTB won't be moving to the Big Apple - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Veto: Catskill OTB won’t be moving to the Big Apple

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday vetoed legislation that would have permitted the Catskill Regional OTB to take over operations of the New York City OTB franchise that went bankrupt and shut down in December 2010. A bill authorizing Catskill, one of six regional OTB franchises in New York, to operate the NYC franchise passed the Assembly and Senate earlier this year.

Democratic Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, chairman of the Assembly's Racing and Wagering Committee and sponsor of the bill, told the New York Daily he was “disappointed” in the governor's veto because the legislation would have brought back many of the 1,000 NYC OTB workers who lost their jobs.

“The city OTB should have never closed in the first place,” said Pretlow. “The bookies are flourishing in New York City right now.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg opposed the bill and Cuomo has stated in the past he preferred a more comprehensive overhaul of gambling legislation. Just last week, the first meeting of the New York Racing Association Reorganization – controlled by Cuomo and chaired by Cornell University president David Skorton – was conducted in New York City. While revenue on wagering from OTBs is distributed to the New York Racing Association and horsemen's purses, the regional OTBs are viewed by many as competitors rather than partners of the NYRA.

The bill made no reference as to why Catskill Regional OTB would be handed the potentially lucrative NYC OTB franchise. The five other Regional OTBs include the bankrupt New York City OTB, Capital District, Nassau, Suffolk, and Western.

The following is Cuomo's veto message:

This bill would extend the coverage of the Catskill region so that its regional off-track betting corporation would include New York City, which has been without physical off-track betting facilities following the closing of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation (OTB) on December 7, 2010.  However, no business plan has been presented to implement this proposal and extend this franchise.  Rather, this is another ad hoc gambling expansion.

I am sensitive to potential opportunities to re-employ a portion of the individuals who lost positions due to the failure of New York City OTB.  But continuing such gambling expansion on a piecemeal basis is irrational and inconsistent with the manner agreed upon to regulate gambling in New York State.  The New York Gaming Commission will commence operating in February 2013, thereby ensuring a comprehensive, sensible statewide approach to gaming in New York.  This legislation is not the appropriate way to address this important issue.

The bill is disapproved.

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