The Journal News from White Plains, New York on August 27, 1972 · Page 24
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The Journal News from White Plains, New York · Page 24

White Plains, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 27, 1972
Page 24
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12B THE JOURNAL-NEWS, SUNDAY, AUGUST 27, 1972 Schenectady OTB has great hopes By EMMET N. O'BRIEN Gannett News Service ALBANY - Schenectady is a model off-track betting city for upstate New York. Its OTB plan, in operation for three weeks, could be the best guideline for the permanent plan of OTB in the state, if one is adopted by the legislature. At the moment Schenectady OTB is shaky but confident. It lags well behind expectations, but its enthusiastic backers see lots ot light at the end of the tunnel. Kent H. Brown, chairman of the state Pan-mutuel Off Track Betting Commission, also sees some hope for Schenectady. There are three big "lfs" : A connection with a major downstate flat track, telephone betting, and some form of exotic betting such as the "Superfecta" in which you pick the first four horses in a given race. Some think of this as more of a numbers game than .horse betting, but it is a big draw with the betters. Schenectady thinks it well on the way. It will put in telephone betting servic e Monday. Aug. 21. if all goes well. It expects to have a connection with Belmont Track on Aug. 28. alter Saratoga tlat track closes. The ' supertecta ' still requires a lot of mechanical work. The entire off-track betting situation is under special study by the state OTB commission, on a directive from Gov. Rockefeller and the legislature. Crux of the problem is whether OTB is sapping revenue from tracks, and driving down pan-mutuel and attendance revenue for the state, and attendance revenue for local governments. And the next step is to determine whether OTB revenue offsets such losses, if indeed, it does not increase the net result. New York City OTB. headed by the highly durable and persuasive Howard Samuels, has gone through most of its growing pains. At the moment, it appears that it will have about $15 million profit .to turn over to the city and state (80 per cent to the city; 20 per cent, less the mandated 4 of 1 per cent from the top each day. for the state). This will be the first solid bit of money tor either city or state from the New York operation. Like most OTB figures, it is far behind the wild estimates of sponsors AROUND THE STATE 3D Hospital job freeze lifted The Health and Hospitals Corp. of New York City said Saturday it has "achieved financial solvency" after two years of operation and will end its freeze on hiring, effective Sept. 1. In a letter to Mayor Lindsay, corporation President Dr. Joseph T. English said the city's 19 municipal hospitals would discontinue the job freeze instituted last November. English said in the past year the corporation has wiped out a deficit by collecting 43 per cent more than the previous year from health insurance plans such as Medicaid. Medicare, Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The job freeze created 1.300 unfilled positions, mostly clerks, nurses aides and housekeeping aides. The corporation currently employes about 41.000 persons. Asks PSC checker New York City Controller Abraham D. Beame. claiming that the state Public Service Commission has changed from "a rate setting agency to a rate raising agency." Saturday called for the appointment of a consumer advocate to represent the public in all utility rate cases. "The latest request by Con Ed for a $181 million rate inc rease, just lour months alter it was granted a $94 million boost by the PSC, makes the appointment of a consumer advocate imperative. " Beame said. He said the PSC was designed to "be an aggressive, imaginative consumer protection agency. ' But that "it is now becoming increasingly obvious that the PSC policy is heavily tilted toward the utilities." Shriver in update tour Democratic vice presidential candidate R. Sargent Shriver describes President Nixon as a "primetime television actor" and predicts the Democratic ticket will be leading the polls by October. In his first upstate New York swing of the campaign, Shriver warned voters Friday in Buffalo not to "get sucked in by the rhetoric and the TV theater" of the Republican National Convention. when the plan was adopted. Schenectady is going through much of what New York City d:d. except it has learned from the New York experience. As do most people involved in gambling (except the professionals). Schenectady is highly optimistic. It is undeterred by a poor showing at the start; charged up by the possibilities if it connects with a big track. "They cannot let us fail," 44-year-old. lormer computer man and merchandiser Raymond S. Blanchard. executive director of the Schenectady OTB. said. " We are the model city." Schenectady OTB has a daily handle of about $4,500 right now, somewhat below a break even point. But the bets are solely on harness races at Monticello, a track far out of the range of Schenectadians. Also, by state edict, it cannot operate when the Saratoga harness track is running. Thus all night bets are shut out. The parlor closes at 7 p.m. and the track operates trom 8 p.m. on. Saratoga harness track will have no business with Schenectady OTB. The state OTB held that any operation while Saratoga was running would be unfair competition. It could cut down on attendance and on on track betting. So for starters, Schenectady had to rely on Monticello. It accepts its bets up to 7 p.m. and transmits them to the track, where they are punched out into the pari-mutuel system. The next day, it pays oft on track odds. The track gets 4 per cent ot the handle for this, out of the 17 per cent Schenectady takes. With the rest, it operated its plush parlor on the city's Wall Street, a former broker's office, with wall-to-wall carpeting, and a big board left by the broker. ("It used to be a gam-fa 1 i n g place," Blanchard cracks.) It offers 30 minutes free parking. The parlor offers 30-minute free parking for bettors half of whom are women. Telephone betting will be accepted in a building across the street. A client can phone in bets if he has established credit by depositing a sum of money. He is given a code name, and all bets must be placed in that name. Blanchard and his crews have been setting up the system. "We already have $5,000 on deposit." he said. He is confident ot a connection with Belmont. The main thing standing in the way is a contract with the pari-mutuel clerks union, and he thinks that "is being worked out." The union chilled Schenectady, it was reported, by demanding, in addition to the favorable contract it has with New York City OTB. a 1 per cent cut of the total handle for the union pension fund. Blanchard said it since has dropped that stunner. 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