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Nassau OTB retirement incentive falls short

People swarm Nassau OTB's Race Palace in Plainview

People swarm Nassau OTB's Race Palace in Plainview to bet money on their horse picks for the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 7, 2014. The president of OTB says he's considering layoffs. Credit: Steve Pfost

A dozen Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. employees have accepted early retirement incentives in a move that will generate less than $200,000 in gross salary savings in 2015 -- significantly less than agency officials originally had expected.

OTB President Joseph Cairo said he will consider layoffs to reduce costs.

"We're going to have to take a long hard look at the numbers," said Cairo, who also is considering closing some OTB branches as leases come up for renewal this year. "But layoffs are a drastic remedy."

Suffolk Legis. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), who serves as president of Teamsters Local 707, which represents Nassau OTB employees, did not respond to a request for comment.

Faced with declining revenue and diminished interest in horse racing, Nassau OTB in March offered an early retirement incentive to 86 of its 220 employees.

Cairo said he had expected about 40 employees to take the incentive, which pays 1 percent of the worker's 2014 base salary for every year of service with the agency or every year of membership in the New York State Retirement System -- whichever is higher -- to a maximum of 20 years.

But only 11 full-time workers and one part-time employee took the offer.

After paying the incentive and any unused sick and vacation time, OTB will save $192,000 this year and $800,000 in 2016, Cairo said.

Cairo said some employees likely were unwilling to retire, hoping that OTB's finances "would make a turnaround" after the planned opening of a casino-style gambling parlor with as many as 1,000 video lottery terminals.

OTB in January dropped a plan to put VLTs at the vacant Fortunoff building in Westbury after vocal community opposition. Cairo continues to look for a new site for the VLTs, and multiple sources said the focus remains on Belmont Park.

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