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DiNapoli calls for overhaul amid OTB woes

An Off-Track Betting parlor in New York City.

An Off-Track Betting parlor in New York City. (Dec. 10, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

Suffolk Off-Track Betting Corp.'s move toward bankruptcy shows the state must fix problems at betting agencies across New York or "others will follow," State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said Friday.

"It's clear that OTB's current business model just doesn't work," DiNapoli said. "It's time we make some much-needed changes and find a model that does."

DiNapoli's statement comes after the Suffolk OTB board Thursday authorized filing a Chapter 9 bankruptcy, if necessary.

Vowing to keep operating, Suffolk OTB officials say they expect to make a decision next week whether to seek court protection to reorganize.

They met with state Racing and Wagering Board officials in Schenectady for more than an hour Friday to review their financial problems.

Board chairman John Sabini said Suffolk officials stressed that the state didn't have all the information it needed to assess the situation. They promised to supply additional data in the next week or so, he said.

Stopping short of a formal audit, the wagering board is developing a "snapshot financial evaluation" after recent Suffolk OTB filings spurred concern, Sabini said.

"If we feel their finances are irreparable, we could shut them down and take away their license to operate simulcast wagering," he said.

Debbie Pfeiffer, Suffolk OTB's director of public and government affairs, could not say what new information the betting agency would provide the state.

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