Closing the NYC OTB’s

The Zola System In Action

Unemployment stands at 9.8%. The Congressional argument on whether to extend the Bush 43 era tax rates has devolved into a screaming match over who is truly looking out for the little man. The states of California, Illinois, Michigan and New York stand on the brink of bankruptcy.

Welcome to the cusp of 2011. The Republic appears to be teetering on the edge of both economic failure and steps away from a nervous breakdown that with make Brittany Spears and Courtney Love envious. But it ain’t Festivus for the rest of us; I am here to tell you.

How we got to this point in our history is beside the point. We are here and desperate measures and economies must be taken. The hard part for many politicians and bureaucrats is trying to figure out what must/can be cut from the national, state and local budgets.

Governor Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency in California in an effort to stem the tide of impending economic doom. Illinois has seen fit to do anything worthwhile at this juncture. Michigan elected a Tea Party favorite named Snyder who will fail unless he finds a way to cut the legacy costs for the unions, state and municipal employees of the Great Lake State. New York? Well, my adopted home state has taken one long far overdue step along the path of fiscal responsibility – the lawmakers in Albany finally closed the state run OTB.

On July 15, 2008, I posted a piece on the take over of the New York City branches of the OTB by the state of New York. Essentially, New York City got out of the bookie business because it couldn’t make any money. This came as a shock to the average bookmaker sitting at bar in the Big Apple because they were sending their kids to Princeton, Columbia and NYU fudging the line while taking bets. However, the state fared far worse than city.

Even with the loss of the interest in the horse racing industry (why bet at the track when you can lose money online playing poker in the comfort of your soon to be bank owned home), the New York City OTB was taking in $400 Million a year. The influx of money that could have helped assuage a small bit of the $120 billion of debt owed by the state. Instead, the city OTB was a massive loser and became what the New York Post kindly deemed “a patronage mill.” As of 12/09/10, the New York City OTB has gone the way of the Dodo Bird. A fabled mistake no one would believe actually occurred if it weren’t for certain Law and Order episodes.

Somewhere Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano are laughing.

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