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OTB Consultant Wanted; Must Burn Through Millions Promoting Sport No One Watches, Wagers On, Attends

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This past Monday in Elmont, New York, 4,536 gathered at Belmont Park to watch and wager on horses running really fast in a circle. The low turnout could be blamed on the heat. Or the day-after-Independence Day holiday. Except that a week earlier, the crowd was 2,753. This is typical. This is the sport of horse racing.

Sampling of attendance at various horse racing tracks on Saturday, June 26:
Belmont Park - 5,487
Canterbury Park - 3,564
Charles Town - 1,279
Colonial Downs - 2,335
Hollywood Park - 4,938
Suffolk Downs - 4,552

On the same Saturday in Washington DC, 25,444 people showed up to attend the American Library Annual Conference. On the opposite coast, in San Jose, CA, 12,698 showed up at a Mixed Martial Arts bout to watch Fedor vs. Werdum. Total gate was reported at $1,066,739 and no official betting action was sanctioned. At Charles Town, total mutuel pool handle was a little over $100,000. Most tracks no longer even bother to report attendance because it's so embarrassing.

Yet, despite the fact horse racing (Kentucky Derby aside) falls in popularity somewhere between the hobby of gravel collecting and stamp licking, New York City Off-Track Betting is boldly determined to do its part to rescue the "sport of kings" -- and will stop at nothing, even bankruptcy, to see this rescue plan through.

What might this rescue plan include? The Times runs down just a few of the consulting gigs OTB has doled out to "resuscitate" wagering on horse racing here in New York:
  • Vishal Rawal, 26, of Edison, N.J., was hired to develop a financial model for a reformulated OTB, with expensive parlors replaced by kiosks in bars and restaurants. Invoices show that Mr. Rawal had been paid a total of about $384,000 in fees through the end of May.
  • Jasper J. Jackson, a lawyer in Montclair, N.J., was hired to help formulate the latest reorganization of OTB. A former deputy insurance commissioner in New Jersey, Mr. Jackson was paid $331,500 through June, and is owed about $50,000 more in deferred fees, invoices show.
Money quote: "Much of the Frucher team’s effort involved wrestling with unpleasant perceptions of OTB parlors and clientele."

All told, OTB has burned through nearly $2 million over the past two years on outside consultants and is currently $83 million in debt. And for what? Good question. As far as I can tell it's for being licensed to operate the sole legal thoroughbred betting outfit in New York City. Monopolies are hard!
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