Onondaga Co. committee approves OTB proposal

Off-Track Betting is one step closer to becoming a reality in Onondaga County.

Tuesday morning, the Onondaga County Legislature TMs Ways and Means Committee approved a proposal to ask the state to include Onondaga County in the Capital Region's OTB. The vote passed by a margin of 4-2, with one abstention.

Lawmakers engaged in a spirited debate over whether the county should be involved in a gambling operation. Those in favor of bringing OTB to Onondaga County say this is a good way to bring money into the county, while those against it say it could foster gambling addictions.

Democrat Mark Stanczyk said the county is "Diving into a cesspool of vices." Republican Robert Warner said the "Misery factor far outweighs any amount of gain for Onondaga County." Republican Richard Lesniak pointed out that "Gambling is everywhere... so why aren't we getting a piece of the pie?"

The bill's co-sponsor, Legislature Chairman Jim Rheinhart, says OTB parlors could net $1 million in tax revenue for county coffers. The proposal was also co-sponsored by legislators Casey Jordan, Kathleen Rapp, and Martin Masterpole.

As a result of this vote, legislators will now begin to examine ways the county can work with the Capital Region OTB Corporation to bring betting parlors here.

The proposal now goes in front of the full legislature next month.