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Suffolk OTB selling Hauppauge headquarters to raise cash, its president says

The financially troubled Suffolk OTB is selling its

The financially troubled Suffolk OTB is selling its headquarters, as seen on March 30, 2015 in Hauppauge, for $2.4 million in order to raise cash. Credit: Johnny Milano

Suffolk County Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. is selling its Hauppauge headquarters for $2.4 million in an effort to raise cash, OTB president Phil Nolan said.

"We need liquidity," Nolan said.

The Suffolk OTB, which is emerging from bankruptcy and trying to build a gambling parlor in Medford, will rent office space nearby in Hauppauge. It backed away from renting space at Brookhaven Town Hall and another town-owned property after community opposition to the casino earlier this year, Nolan said.

"We decided to move around the corner after there was some controversy," Nolan said.

Suffolk OTB is counting on the 1,000 video lottery terminals to bring it out of bankruptcy. The public benefit corporation, whose three board members are appointed by the Suffolk legislature, expects to have lost more than $3 million last year on its horse race betting operations, Nolan said.

Local civic groups have sued to stop the Medford casino.

Critics said the need to sell its headquarters is the latest sign of a troubled operation.

"They've proven that they can't run a business," said Nerina Sperl, treasurer of the Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association. "Why would we let them have another bigger business to run?"

Nolan blamed the financial state of the OTB on dwindling interest in horse betting and a state formula that divides profits between other interests.

He expects the sale to close in mid-April, he said. The move into smaller and less expensive space in Hauppauge will happen within 45 days, he said.

The pending sale came to light after Suffolk OTB board minutes were posted online March 23.

The OTB had been finalizing leases to move into vacant space at Brookhaven Town Hall and other town-owned property, according to OTB board meeting minutes from November and December. Both are closer to the Medford site.

Brookhaven officials, who have tried to distance themselves from the gambling project, denied that a deal was ever close.

According to the November OTB minutes, "President Nolan stated that we are planning our move to the Town of Brookhaven, we have committed to 2 separate locations at their Town Hall."

In December, Suffolk OTB vice president Anthony Pancella III said they hoped to close the sale by Feb. 15.

"We are pressed now to confirm our new location at Town of Brookhaven Town Hall," Pancella said.

Suffolk OTB walked through Brookhaven property in August or September, town director of operations Matt Miner said.

The space didn't work, Miner said. "It didn't make operational sense on either side," he said.


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