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Close OTB parlor on 31st Street: Vallone

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The OTB's board of directors announced at a Feb. 19 meeting that it would close two storefront parlors, one of which is located at 28-15 Steinway St. in Astoria, by the end of the month. The other site to be closed is in Staten Island.The board voted to shut down the city's 62 OTB sites by June 15, when its 1,500 employees will be laid off, the mayor said. Queens has 19 OTB sites.Vallone praised the closing of the Steinway Street OTB site and called for the closing of a 31st Street operation, which he said has caused tensions between patrons who visit the site.The councilman said the city's OTB gives millions to the New York Racing Association, which results in a $14 million deficit that city residents are forced to fund."New York City already gives billions more to Albany than it gets back," he said. "Now we find out that [the city's] OTB is forced to send millions of dollars that it doesn't have to support the upstate racing industry. The mayor is right to demand an end to the unacceptable pattern of city residents getting the stick, while upstate gets the carrot."Bloomberg said the city's OTB should not be able to operate if city residents must pay for it."We have no business subsidizing betting parlors at the expense of city taxpayers, particularly at a time when we're asking all agencies to cut their budgets," he said.The city's OTB was created in 1970 with a mission of raising revenue for the city and state, but the state has forced it to pay a significant percentage of its profits to help boost the upstate racing industry, the mayor said.Vallone has long complained of the city being shortchanged by Albany and has called on the city to explore the option of seceding from the state.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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