- Associated Press - Friday, September 25, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A sizeable drop in off-track-betting in New York state is threatening the solvency of the industry and its contributions to local governments, a state audit released Friday says.

Wagering at off-track betting parlors dropped by $1.2 billion from 2009 through 2013, compared to the previous five-year period, according to the report from Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office. The nearly 25 percent drop came at a time when gamblers had more ways to wager than ever - at casinos, slot parlors and on online games.

“The viability of OTBs is in financial jeopardy,” said DiNapoli. “Some localities rely on this revenue to help balance their budgets and already feel the effects of this decline.”

The state regulates five regional off-track betting corporations that operate parlors around New York.

Local government revenue from off-track betting declined from $17.6 million in 2009 to $10.2 million in 2013, a 42 percent drop. Total annual wagering at off-track betting fell from $817 in 2009 to $664 in 2013.

Off-track parlors now compete not only with race tracks but new casinos and slot parlors in nearby states and emerging online gambling sites while plans are in the works for up to four new casinos in New York state.

DiNapoli’s audit also identified waning interest in horse racing as another factor leading to the sharp declines at off-track parlors.

In responses to the audit, executives at off-track parlors said they are working to absorb the revenue loss. They said they would ask state lawmakers to make regulatory changes to the payments they are required to make to harness race tracks.

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