Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (30th District-Maspeth) strongly opposes the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation proposal to sharply expand gambling opportunities in local neighborhoods by installing more than 1,300 video gambling terminals in locations throughout the city.
She made the Assembly leadership aware of the potential impact of the proposal in a letter to Speaker Sheldon Silver following a public hearing on the future of the New York City OTB earlier this month. Assemblywoman Markey is a member of the Assembly Committee on Racing & Wagering, which held the hearing in conjunction with the Corporations, Authorities & Commissions Committee as well as the matching committees of the State Senate.
The self-service video gaming kiosks that would be placed in public locations around the city are a key part of a financial restructuring proposal presented by OTB Chairman Meyer Sandy Frucher. “OTB wants to significantly expand gambling in the city as the price for keeping its operations solvent. I say this price is too high,” said Assemblywoman Markey.
“They want to put self-service betting terminals in such locations as bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and other public places that may be frequented by children,” she said. “It’s a 1200 percent expansion of horserace betting outlets in the city. It would result in 260 betting locations in my home borough of Queens, 19 in each community board district, and potentially 40 right in my own Maspeth district.”
“This is totally unacceptable. It isn’t that we don’t want to save OTB, but this expansion of horse race gambling outlets with all the social problems it can bring may be too high a price. I think we need to look carefully at all the alternatives for supporting the public interest in thoroughbred racing and the equine industry,” she said.
The State Legislature approved the takeover of the city’s OTB by the State Off-Track Betting Corporation in 2007 as a result of the city OTB’s financial situation that year. Continuing financial difficulties forced the NYC OTB to file for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy protection in December 2009. The joint public hearing on January 8, 2010 was held to hear the organization’s proposal for restructuring which includes closing 41 branch betting parlors, reducing the 1300 OTB employees by half and opening a new flagship betting location in each borough.