Monday, February 28, 2022

Senate proposal would change OTB representation

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The state has proposed legislation that will change how Off-Track Betting (OTB) is overseen and operated. Under the proposed bill introduced by state Sen. Tim Kennedy, instead of each member county having its own representative, membership would be distributed by population.

"And Schuyler County would be forced to share a single representative with Cayuga, Chautauqua, Genesee, Livingston and Seneca Counties," said County Attorney Steven Getman. "Larger, western counties, such as Monroe and Erie, would gain representation on the board."


Western Regional Off-Track Betting is a public benefit corporation that is owned by 15 counties and the cities of Buffalo and Rochester. Currently, there are county and city representatives that comprise the board of directors. The proposed bill would drastically change that structure with one member representing Chautauqua, Cayuga, Genesee, Livingston, Schuyler and Seneca counties, one member representing Oswego, Cattaraugus and Wayne counties, three representing Monroe, Wyoming and Orleans counties and four would represent Erie County. Additionally, one representative would represent Niagara County, another one would be appointed by the governor, one would be appointed by the Senate majority leader, and finally one would be appointed by the Assembly speaker.

While the new legislation is noted to help address prior problems, officials question if shifting the power to fewer areas of the state will actually accomplish those goals.

"Schuyler County, through its representation on the OTB board of directors, has been very vocal in trying to unravel these alleged deficiencies in the current OTB operations and this legislation would, paradoxically, weaken its voice in OTB governance," said Getman. "Had this legislation been in effect during the past several years, Schuyler County's ability to challenge these alleged deficiencies would likely have been seriously curtailed."