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SOA Backs Pretlow Proposal

Published: March 22, 2010 4:21 pm ET

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In response to today’s bankruptcy court ruling to uphold the proposed bankruptcy of New York City Off Track Betting, the Standardbred Owners Association reinforced its support for a restructuring proposal released last week by NYS Assembly Racing & Wagering Committee Chairman Gary Pretlow.

The following was the decision released today by the bankruptcy court: “Protected for now by chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code, NYC OTB will either reorganize or liquidate under the watch of this court, depending on the actions of the New York State Legislature and NYC OTB’s further negotiations with each of its important constituencies.” The SOA strongly believes that the only reorganization plan presented thus far that is either “achievable or industry-friendly” is Assemblyman Pretlow’s.

SOA President Joe Faraldo said, “Overall, Chairman Pretlow’s plan reflects the staunch belief of our horsemen – and numerous stakeholders throughout the racing industry – that NYCOTB’s own restructuring proposal is unrealistic and would have significant negative impacts across New York’s racing, breeding and agricultural industries. NYCOTB’s suggested elimination of legislatively required payments to the racing industry, their scheme to shift from a “gross to net” model and their apparent continued refusal to commit to supporting or promoting our own New York State racing product in a substantive way are just a few of the components that make this proposal disastrous for our industry, and thus counterproductive to New York's overall economy.

“We believe that Chairman Pretlow’s decision to focus on long-needed administrative improvements and cost containment at NYCOTB – including reducing administrative payroll, shedding unnecessary leases, consolidating branches, reining in overtime, adjusting staffing levels, changing work rules and giving up vehicles – makes much more sense for the long-term well-being of New York racing than simply eliminating legislatively-mandated payments to the industry (payments, it should be noted, that were deemed necessary by the Legislature as a direct result of NYCOTB’s own counterproductive decision to import competing racing signals). Furthermore, we wholly agree that the need for such payments could be mitigated simply by requiring NYCOTB to show and promote New York’s own local racing product and we believe that New York State OTB operations should be required to carry/display the New York State racing product first on all of its wagering outlets/vehicles (including, but not limited to, in-parlour, television broadcasts, and any and all past, present or future wagering platforms it or its agents employ), with out-of-state signals to be allowed only when not enough in-state signals are available to fulfill said programming needs."

Faraldo concluded, “We believe NYCOTB has no unity of interest with New York State horse racing and the notion of being able to 'fix' it – without jeopardizing the well-being of a harness racing industry that generates 40,000 jobs for New Yorkers – appears to be a challenge of the highest order. The vast majority of NYCOTB’s problems can be linked directly to their own flawed business decisions and a demonstrated lack of support for New York’s racing product, and within such a context it has been amazingly ironic that NYCOTB has continually sought to remedy its ills on the backs of New York horsemen, breeders and farmers who are just now experiencing a long-anticipated renaissance. Though we continue to have reservations about the long-term prospects of leaving pari-mutuel wagering in the hands of entities with the track records and histories of the New York State OTBs, the fact of the matter is that Chairman Pretlow’s plan represents the most rational, achievable, industry-friendly proposal we have seen yet. We look forward to working with him and stakeholders throughout Albany and New York State to make it a success.”


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