12/4/09 – New York City Off-Track Betting Corp., a land betting operator, filed for bankruptcy this week and plans to reorganise after five years of losses totaling $45 million – and virtual horseracing is an option being studied, according to reports from the Bloomberg business news agency.
A lack of resources to build the type of modern race tracks that exist in neighboring states and dwindling cash levels were cited as reasons for the Chapter 9 filing, which listed as much as $500 million in debts against $50 million in assets.
The filing won’t halt gambling operations, said Meyer Frucher, chairman of the state-run corporation.
“We’re not going to be asking for any taxpayer dollars,” Frucher said. The reorganisation plan calls for a $250 million bond sale to pay debts and provide funds to buy new technology and improve betting parlours.
In September this year, Frucher hinted at what form such new technology would take, claiming that betting volume may increase as much as four-fold to $4 billion with updated technology, such as an around-the-clock horse-racing TV channel or virtual racing.
Since its 1971 inception, the company has made payments of $2 billion to the horse-racing industry, about $1.4 billion to New York City, and about $600 million to the state, according to court documents.
If the betting operation were closed instead of reorganised, New York City OTB would face debt of more than $600 million, Frucher said.
The state took control of New York City OTB’s operations in 2008 after Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would shut it down to stop losses.