Rayburn Means Business In NY

Published: September 2, 2010 04:53 pm EDT

Greg Rayburn, New York City OTB’s chief executive, withdrew his offer of early retirements for OTB employees yesterday after his deadline for union agreement passed


Rayburn showed he means business in either saving or closing the United States' biggest betting service, which handles more than $750 million a year.

Rayburn issued a brief announcement, saying, “Yesterday the NYC OTB board of directors passed a resolution approving targeted early retirement incentives contingent on management reaching an acceptable agreement with its two largest unions. No such agreement was reached with either of the two unions by the deadline yesterday. As a result, there will be no early retirement incentives available to NYC OTB employees. Management of NYC OTB will continue to work with its unsecured creditors committee to determine the path forward.”

That path forward, as Rayburn characterized it, meant not only that there would be layoffs rather than early retirement for employees of the state, which now runs OTB, but that the offer of transferring account wagering to New York harness and thoroughbred tracks was now off the table.

That is part of Rayburn’s 'Plan B,' and Paul Post, writing in The Saratogian, said that after severing all union contracts, all payroll and benefits would be significantly reduced and OTB “would also seek reduced distributions from tracks.”

Considering that highly unlikely, Harness Tracks of America called Post, and he agreed, saying the quote had been taken from a governor’s office report. He also wrote that Rayburn wants to avoid closing NYC OTB because of the huge impact it would have on racing.

Post quoted Rayburn as saying, “Liquidating the business is a bad outcome for the racing industry in New York. Massive loss of handle is going to have some downstream effects.”

Post noted that attempting to sever union contracts “is almost sure to trigger expensive and lengthy litigation, which could delay an ultimate resolution indefinitely.”

Matt Hegarty, in his Daily Racing Form story on the issue, explained that the account wagering takeover would have been in exchange “for forgiveness of $65 million in debt.”

Hegarty quoted Morgan Hook, a spokesman for Gov. David Paterson and NYC OTB, as saying “'Plan A' is effectively not an option anymore. There was a deadline, and that deadline has passed.”

(Harness Tracks of America)