Proposed Assembly Legislation Revitalizes New York City Off-Track Betting

Written By Dave Champagne on February 24, 2023 - Last Updated on February 27, 2023

Legislation introduced earlier this month in the New York State Assembly aims to amend the state’s Racing, Pari-mutuel Wagering, and Breeding Law.

Specifically, the bill, A03527 and introduced by Assemb. Gary Pretlow, would expand off-track horse betting in New York to “include the five counties comprising the city of New York,” and to repeal certain New York Region-related provisions of the current law.

The amendments further establish specific rules and procedures the annexing destination, the Catskill Region, will adhere to in administering the affected counties.

The bill has been referred to the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee for review and action. Pretlow said that, although Gov. Kathy Hochul recently proposed eliminating the Catskill OTB Region, he hopes to get his bill into the new state budget.

NYC administration favors OTB bill

Sponsored by Pretlow, chairman of the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee, A03527 eliminates what is currently the inactive New York City Region, incorporating the included counties into the Catskill Region. The affected areas include Richmond, Queens, Kings, Bronx and New York counties.

“Mayor Bloomberg closed New York City OTB several years ago,” Assemblyman Pretlow told PlayNY. “OTB had become a patronage mill, with positive financial activity only happening every four years, at election time.

“Although I haven’t yet spoken to the mayor, the New York City administration is highly in favor of this bill.”

New OTB locations within New York City would mostly feature self-service kiosks, as opposed to the previously supported and more traditional physical locations, or tele-theaters like the Albany location, Pretlow said.

Details of NY horse betting bill

The bill also establishes a Site Selection Board in the Catskill Region. This board will review, approve and lease or purchase, as necessary, any property proposed as an off-track betting facility within the city of New York.

As detailed in the bill proposal, the board will consist of the following member:

  • Chief executive officer of the economic development corporation
  • Designee of NYC Mayor Eric Adams
  • President(s) of borough or boroughs, or the president’s designee, in which the proposed site is located
  • Chair of the community board, or the chair’s designee, representing the neighborhood in which the proposed site is located
  • Comptroller of the city of New York, or the comptroller’s designee

“The Site committee would also support the approval for locations of potential downstate casinos,” Pretlow said, “which would still require community approval. There are seventeen interested parties so far in this space, which would need to come up with a $1,000,000 deposit to proceed with the consideration and approval process.”

Further, the legislation provides for the definition of operating rules for the Catskill Region as relates to the five counties joining the region, also requiring the establishment and continuous maintenance, as necessary, of a business plan.

Photo by AP / Seth Wenig
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Dave Champagne

Dave Champagne is a freelance writer with a wealth of varied experience with local newspapers, websites, and podcasts, gained in tandem with an ongoing I/T career spanning the better part of five decades. Based in upstate New York, Dave entertains himself with sports and horse race betting as well as the occasional attempt at tournament golf.

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