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NYC Off-Track Betting to Close Before Senate Votes

New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. will close tomorrow even as the state Senate plans to reconvene on Dec. 7 to vote on a plan to save the bankrupt agency, said Jessica Bassett, an OTB spokeswoman.

“It appears that there are not 32 votes in the Senate for the proposed NYC OTB restructuring plan,” Bassett said in a statement. “Absent a bipartisan assurance that they will pass the bill, the corporation has no choice but to move forward with the planned closure.”

The announcement came two hours after Democratic Senate leader John Sampson said he would recall Senators to Albany. Bassett wasn’t available to say whether OTB could reopen if the Senate approves the rescue bill.

“I have spoken to our colleagues across the aisle to urge bipartisan cooperation and action,” Sampson said in a statement today.

OTB’s board voted yesterday to approve plans to close tomorrow, which could result in 800 jobs lost.

Republican Senate leader Dean Skelos, of Rockville Centre in Long Island, said this week he was unwilling to bail out OTB without more questioning and information. Democrats, who could have passed the rescue plan if it was supported by all 32 of their members, didn’t bring it to a vote.

Chapter 9 Bankruptcy

The Assembly, where Democrats occupy 107 of the 150 seats, approved a bill Nov. 30 that would save the organization by an 84-to-47 vote, with some of its 108 Democrats voting against the plan.

OTB operated 68 betting parlors when it filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in December 2009. It lost $45 million in the five years before the filing as betting revenue from horse racing fell short of payments owed to tracks, local governments and operating costs.

Passing the rescue package would allow racetracks, the biggest creditors, to assume ownership of the profitable Internet and telephone-wagering business, according to a bill proposed by Governor David Paterson this week.

The plan would also allow the corporation to pay its own pension obligations of $12 million annually, rather than leaving that cost to other participants in the New York City Employees Retirement System, and to pay health costs of its retired workers, estimated at more than $500 million. The city and state have disagreed about who would be liable for the health-care payments, according to the description attached to the legislation.

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