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Suffolk OTB to sell Bay Shore parlor

Bettors line up in the parlor on the

Bettors line up in the parlor on the day of Belmont Stakes in 2004. The Bay Shore OTB site is being sold to a car dealer group. Credit: Newsday / Daniel Goodrich

Suffolk Off-Track Betting Corp., mired in bankruptcy until it can open a new video-slot casino, is selling its Bay Shore betting parlor for $2.7 million, leaving the agency with only a half-dozen remaining branches.

Philip Nolan, Suffolk OTB president, said the 8,000-square-foot facility on the north side of Sunrise Highway is being purchased by Atlantic Automotive Group. He expects closing within several weeks. Atlantic officials declined to comment on the deal Thursday.

Nolan said the site is valuable to Atlantic because it is next to its Atlantic Honda dealership and near its multi-brand Atlantic Auto Mall, one of the largest car dealer operations in the country. OTB still has to pay off its $1.35 million mortgage on the property.

Before entering bankruptcy protection in March 2011, Suffolk OTB had 12 branches, but as part of its reorganization has closed five other betting parlors to cut costs. The Bay Shore branch, with a distinctive Churchill Downs roof design, opened in 1998 and is one of OTB's largest branches with a seating capacity of 177, with 95 individual handicapping booths with TV screens. OTB officials say they expect no layoffs because most branch employees are part time, although one full-time worker may have to work part time until the casino opens.

Nolan said the Bay Shore branch has generated about $11 million a year in betting handle, but is only breaking even. He said it will not be replaced because the cost of opening at a new site would be about $400,000, wiping out much of the profit from the sale.

OTB officials say they will seek instead to educate customers in the next several weeks about a half-dozen alternate sites such as local restaurants and bars that have OTB Qwik Betz machines as well as information on how to do Internet and telephone betting.

Nolan said the sale will help OTB -- which has about $17 million in unsecured debt -- survive in the coming months while it plans the opening of a new gambling complex, which will feature 1,000 electronic slot machines known as video lottery terminals. The Bellone administration expects a fall opening and has budgeted $4 million in anticipated revenue by year's end.

OTB officials are negotiating a contract with Delaware North to build the new gaming complex at a site yet to be determined, though properties along Route 110, in Brentwood, and as far east as just beyond Long Island Expressway Exit 64 are under consideration. OTB hopes to complete its contract with Delaware North shortly and choose a site for the new gaming complex in March.

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