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Letter: OTB is drain on public coffers

Players watch the first race at Aqueduct at

Players watch the first race at Aqueduct at Nassau OTB Farmingdale branch. (March 26, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile

Once again, we have some creative accounting by another Nassau County politician ignoring the fundamental facts. While quoting all the reasons the Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. is benefiting the public, the corporation's president, Joseph G. Cairo Jr., fails to quote the bottom line profit or loss ["OTBs raising fiscal health," Letters, June 5.]

The last state audit of OTB indicated a decline in net revenue from $7 million in 2004 to $146,000 in 2008. Expense for salaries in 2008 amounted to more than $12 million, not including pensions, health care or overtime. This is not a high-tech job. What justifies this expense?

It seems to me that the entire point of OTB is to provide patronage jobs, even if this costs taxpayers. Cairo's prior request that Nassau OTB should, as a precaution, receive the same bankruptcy-filing rights as other OTBs in New York City and Suffolk County is tantamount to the Titanic sending an SOS to be on the safe side.

But the blame for this lack of oversight clearly rests with the State Legislature, which allows this money-losing venture to continue under both Democratic and Republican leadership. It is time to cut the losses.

Michael Lanz, East Rockaway