‘Damning Report’ Shows ‘Complete Disarray’ at New York OTB
An OTB in the region is "behind the times in terms of serving fans" and allegedly served as "private patronage mills for OTB executives and their friends."
On Tuesday, Orange County Legislature Chairwoman Katie Bonelli, along with other County Legislators, urged the Catskill OTB Board to immediately replace Catskill OTB President Donald Groth.
“OTB’s were set up to benefit the taxpayers and the sport of horse racing,” Bonelli said. “They were not set up to become private patronage mills for OTB executives and their friends. Catskill OTB has long failed the taxpayers, shutting down their facilities one by one while allowing for double-dipping on the taxpayer’s dime. This must end now,” Chairwoman Bonelli said.
The Legislators are asking the New York State Gaming Commission to be allowed to take control of Catskill OTB’s finances.
Last week, Governor Hochul’s administration released what officials call a "damning report" that the Cuomo Administration had failed to release showing "complete disarray at Catskill OTB."
The 2018 report from the NYS Inspector General cited wasteful spending by OTB Executives, including leasing warehouses used for junk storage, nepotistic behavior, and spending on extravagances for OTB Board Members, officials say.
According to data from the State Gaming Commission, the handle bet on horse racing for the various OTB regions was as follows:
“Catskill OTB has always been behind the times in terms of serving fans. As a result, their benefit to the sport and taxpayers is much less than should be the case. The Inspector General’s Report may just be the tip of the iceberg but it should certainly tip the management of OTB away from the current structure," Orange County Legislator Michael Amo, who is also a long-time horse enthusiast appointed to the State Racing Fan Advisory Council said.
The Legislators called upon the NYS Attorney General as well as District Attorneys from Orange and Rockland Counties to open an investigation into OTB’s spending practices.
“There can be no reason why Catskill OTB was markedly less than every other OTB, except mismanagement,” Chairwoman of the Orange County Legislature’s Economic Development and Gaming Committee Kathy Stegenga said. "Last year Catskill OTB contributed to Orange County totaling $156,272 after giving nothing to Orange County in 2019 and 2020. Catskill OTB was only able to provide funding last year because the State Legislature permitted OTBs to utilize their capital reserve fund for operating expenses last year alone.