Lawmakers Approve Catskill OTB Running NYC OTB

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The state Legislature approved giving Catskill OTB the rights to reopen OTB branches in New York City, but the measure faces an uncertain future with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Neither Bloomberg nor Cuomo have indicated support for Catskill OTB to open OTB branches in New York City, where about 55 branches were shut down in December 2010 and nearly 1,000 people lost their jobs.

A Cuomo spokesman said Friday that the administration would review the legislation. Cuomo is undertaking a broad review of the state’s gambling operations, and he is seeking a constitutional amendment to legalize casinos.

Catskill OTB has 26 branches through the Southern Tier and in the Hudson Valley, including in Binghamton, Elmira, Putnam County and Rockland County.

Donald Groth, Catskill OTB’s president, told Gannett Albany Bureau earlier this week that he sees success in reopening the OTB branches in New York City. He said the initial goal would be to open one branch in each borough, then expand to a maximum of about 20 branches.

“We see this as a jobs bill. We want to put these people back to work.,” Groth said.

If approved by Cuomo, the state Racing and Wagering Board would have to sign off on a business plan for the city’s OTBs. New York City would also have to approve the locations of the OTB branches.

Assembly Racing Committee chairman Gary Pretlow, D-Yonkers, said the plan would put people back to work. He said he was confident in Catskill OTB’s management, saying they are making a profit unlike some other failed OTBs.

“People talk about it’s a bad model, it’s not a bad model if you run it well,” Pretlow said.

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