Off Track Betting Parlors Losing Money In New York City

The Zola System In Action

How anyone can lose money running a racket is beyond me.

Meyer Lansky said the government would eventually get into the gambling business because that’s where the money was. That is the reason the OTB’s (Off Track Betting) were created in 1970 by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller; the state could take the bets and all the profits. Essentially, New York City opted to cut the mafia and illegal bookmakers out of the action. The OTB’s, however are anything but good bookies. You see, when you make book, you keep any cash your customers lose as well as the “rake” or surcharge on any winning bet; you make money on both ends of any transactions and the average bookie plays with the odds so he can be assured of making money on any dead even wager. The Off Track Betting parlors rely on the individual race tracks for their odds and all monies lost on wagering goes to the tracks. The state and city see none of it. I guess the racing industry has good lobbyists. The surcharge on winners is the way New York City’s book making operation makes money (In the past year or two, someone finally got smart and started charging an entrance fee, so a little more cash goes into the coffers). With only one winner in your average ten horse race, and most of the gamblers playing the favorites which go off at three to two, the surcharge on the $2 bet isn’t going to make a whole lot of profit.

Despite those limitations, the city’s OTB manages to generate around $1 billion a year. However, due to the split with the racing industry and the state, the city only sees $19 million a year. (NY Times 6/15/08 ).

On Friday June 13, 2008 , Governor Patterson announced he and Mayor Bloomberg had come to an agreement to allow the state to take over and run the New York City ’s OTB operation. A short while later, Bloomberg not only denied any such deal was cut but that the Sunday June 15 deadline to close the Off Track Betting parlors was still in place.

“I see no need to operate a book making operation that loses money.” Mayor Bloomberg told WCBS AM.

Somehow, Patterson and Bloomberg got a deal done so now it is official – the degenerate gamblers in New York City won’t have to physically go to the track to lose their money. They won’t have to leave their neighborhoods either. The agreement forged by Patterson and Bloomberg saved the 1,500 jobs the OTB provides New York City residents.

Gov. Patterson called it a “moral imperative.” (NY Times June 15, 2008 .)

I think that may have been the first time I have ever heard an elected official in the still puritanical United States call the long thought amoral act of wagering and the degenerate culture that surrounds it an imperative that must be saved.

The more money the New York City OTB wastes, the more I think Mayor Fiorella Laguardia had it right: there should be no legal gambling in New York City . At least when bookmaking and gambling were illegal in New York City someone was making money.

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