Coming Soon to a Bar Near You? Off Track Betting Terminals? [It Could Happen]

This is a topic dear to my heart.

I’m a New Yorker. I like horse racing. I like gambling.

No, I LOVE to gamble. [Not more than I can afford, of course.]

And I grew up…as New York’s OTB grew up.

So, the latest is that OTB is going broke. Now, in an effort to drum up business, OTB has been offering taverns money to open betting terminals.

Bar owners, of course, hope that betting will get people to drink.

The pitch to bar owners is simple and straightforward: More gambling means more drinking, which equals more profits. OK.

At the Willmont Bar in Yonkers, customers often go to a nearby OTB parlor before coming to the bar for their $2.50 bottle of beer.

When an OTB representative stopped by, offering to install equipment that would allow betting on simulcast races in his establishment, the bar owner thought it would make things more convenient for his patrons, and help business.

It’s a last-ditch effort to turn the financially strapped OTB around.

They pitch a program to install betting terminals they call “kiosks,” promising to pay $2,500 for startup costs and to “fund the till.”

Bar owners would get a cut of the take. Plus, there would be all that extra drinking.

Promotional materials given to barkeeps say patrons will spend “more time drinking, eating and wagering.”

OTB notes that 56 bars near Albany and on Long Island (where I grew up)  already have kiosks. Profits there have risen.

Let’s hope the plan works. Time is running out.

Last week, OTB got federal bankruptcy protection to shield it from $500 million in debt.

A day later, it pink-slipped 1,300 workers and vowed to shut down April 11.

I’ll keep you posted on what happens.

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