Off-Track Betting could come to Onondaga County

Lawmakers are considering a proposal to establish an Off-Track Betting parlor in Onondaga County.

Past proposals to bring OTB to Onondaga County have fallen by the wayside, but Legislature Chairman Jim Rhinehart says unless the county acts now, it could lose out on an estimated million dollars a year in tax revenue. Rhinehart says Governor David Paterson is proposing a state takeover of all OTB parlors that are not affiliated with one of the three regional Off-Track Betting corporations. Rhinehart says two such corporations are interested in including Onondaga County in their districts.

"If Onondaga County is not included in a district and that happens we wouldn't share in a buyout, so at this point we're looking at least to be associated with a district." Rhinehart told CNY Central.

B ill Palmer is a regular at the Off-Track Betting parlor in the Madison County community of Bridgeport. Palmer lives in Minoa, but has to cross the county line to place his bets. He says it's time for Onondaga County to establish a similar facility and he says downtown Syracuse would be ideal. "I'm surprised it took so long because they built a downtown center for people to come in with restaurants and yet OTB, I think would attract a lot of people."

The manager of the Bridgeport OTB operation, Marge Colling, says a facility in Onondaga County could be successful. "I know OTB has been trying to get in there for years and years in the past it's been denied, but most of our patrons come from Onondaga County."

O ver the past decade betting at off track facilities has fallen off by 29 percent , mainly because of competition from casinos and the internet , but even under those circumstances Rhinehart feels OTB is a good bet for Onondaga County.