BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ Mark Hamister is awaiting word on whether he'll receive the necessary state government assistance package to purchase the Buffalo Sabres by Friday's NHL-imposed deadline.

``I'm not a gambling person,'' Hamister said Thursday. ``We're working hard to make sure that that happens. I guess tomorrow will have to speak for itself.''

The fate of the financially troubled Sabres remains in question, hinging on whether New York Gov. George Pataki approves a $33 million assistance package to Hamister and majority partner Todd Berman.

Hamister, a Buffalo businessman, and Berman, a New York City financier, have been approved by the NHL as the Sabres prospective owners and, last week, were issued a one-week extension to get their financing in place.

Without government assistance, Hamister has repeatedly said that he'll relinquish his purchase bid, opening the potential of the Sabres folding or moving at the end of this season.

NHL spokesman Frank Brown said the league will reserve comment until Friday.

Messages left with the governor's office by The Associated Press were not immediately returned.

State Sen. Dale Volker, who has close ties to Pataki, was ``extremely hopeful'' that the governor was prepared to unveil an assistance package on Friday.

``Let's put it this way, I would be surprised if there was not some sort of announcement tomorrow,'' Volker said, adding that the announcement would be a positive one.

Hamister, who has been in daily contact with state officials, was also hopeful.

``I'm plenty more confident today than I was a week ago,'' Hamister said. ``I think the very fact that talks are going on a daily basis would suggest progress. But the final note of progress will be that final action.''

Hamister's request for state aid involves refinancing a $22.9 million loan on the construction of HSBC Arena, the Sabres home, and $10 million in capital improvements to the facility.

Hamister has also sought public assistance from county and city governments. While city councilors have turned down Hamister's request to waive the annual $500,000 in ground rent for the arena, Erie County executive Joel Giambra supports the construction of a $7 million parking ramp, which would serve both the arena and the region's commuters.

Thursday, the county legislature's seven-member Republican delegation went a step further after meeting with Hamister. The legislators unanimously backed the county providing an annual $1 million capital improvement grant for the arena and a proposal that all proceeds from a 2.5 percent county event tax be used to cover arena expenses.

Hamister has stressed that no public funds would go toward the reported $70 million purchase of the franchise.