New York’s Off Track Betting Shut Down

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Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Despite providing a near monopoly on gambling in New York City, the once $6.53 billion-a-year Off Track Betting Corporation shut down last night, closing the doors on its 50 storefronts and laying off 1,000 employees. Even though in recent years the total bets had dropped to less than 1 billion, after the roughly 75 percent that was paid back to winners, OTB still provided millions to breeders, track owners, upstate horse farms, and other race-related businesses. OTB was killed by its lavish outlays — to businesses and also to unionized workers and state agencies — and the rise of Internet gambling. When the state senate voted on whether to offer last-minute salvation to the struggling corporation, several key senators didn't even bother to show up. Now, according to the Post, the OTB's death could spark the demise of another, more venerable institution: the preppy Saratoga Race Course, which is supposedly the oldest sporting venue of any kind in the United States. Without the funds flowing from OTB, the 150-year-old institution could be forced to close.

See? It's not just poorly dressed old white people smelling of booze at eleven in the morning that will be affected by the OTB shutdown. It's also richly dressed white people smelling of booze at eleven in the morning!

Betting Parlors Close Their Doors in New York [NYT]
Saratoga's fading fast: OTB chief [NYP]
Bookies Gone Broke [NYM]