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Bronx Bookie Has Lost Over $100K Since NJ Got Into Sports Betting Game

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:
Jul/26/2019

Ever since states began regulating sports betting in the wake of a landmark US Supreme Court ruling last year to legalize the activity, regional bookies have worried gamblers might start walking away in favor of companies that receive the state stamp of approval.

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While the vast majority of states will ultimately offer limited or no sports wagering at all, New Jersey has gone all-in.  To date, they've led the sector, even bypassing Nevada's revenue numbers earlier this year.  The only striking limitations in NJ are bans on bets involving games that feature in-state schools such as Rutgers and Seton Hall as well as the provision that customers must be at least 21 years old. 

One Bronx bookie is already feeling the pain.

Though New York state has opted not to allow mobile betting, the nearest full service sportsbook is just a hop, skip and jump away in neighboring New Jersey at the Meadowlands FanDuel branded sportsbook. 

“At least the (New York) state legislature did not legalize mobile sports betting in New York, but they’re probably going to do that a year from now," the anonymous bookmaker lamented to TheLines.com "…. and I am worried that it will put me out of business.”

His business has dropped annually from around $250,000 to $150,000.

Jasper (not his real name) has been taking bets for 27 years now.

Once affiliated with the mob, he now operates independently.

From TheLines.com:

He has a clientele of slightly more than two dozen men, all of whom he has vetted through tightly knit relationships developed over the years. If he doesn’t know you or you aren’t a trusted friend of a friend, he won’t take your action.

Bookies, such as Jasper, are continuing to operate in the black economy for a number of reasons. The biggest reason is they extend credit, which is something that many of the heavy hitters in the newly legalized US sports gambling economy will not do.

Casinos still give credit at brick-and-mortar facilities, but online gaming companies are not there yet, or are not allowed to extend it.

That's one thing local bookies, in fact, can continue to bet on.  There is no way regulated sportsbooks in the States will ever extend credit to players, at least not in yours or my lifetime.

Anonymity is important for a number of reasons.  In an upcoming blockbuster Gambling911.com podcast interview with Matt Morandi, CEO of PremierPerHead.com, sports bettors ears are certain to perk up.

Morandi warns that, should a sports gambler ever face a divorce, all of that money bet gets filed in court documents.  In other words, if an individual is making $60,000 a year salary from his day job and $100,000 from betting sports with the likes of a FanDuel or William Hill (he'll surely be booted from Hill though after his first $5000 in winnings), that $100,000 will be known to the wifey, and then to the attorneys and judge presiding over the case.  Bet with Jasper and others like him, that income generated is presumably kept secret.

And, for the time being at least, Jasper's players will start to take a hit on the cost of tolls traveling to and from the Garden State - $30 round trip.

Morandi, when asked, called out Jasper's story as BS.

"Players aren't driving back and forth every day to place bets at the Meadowlands instead of using Jasper and they can just bet offshore if they want from the comfort of their own homes," he said.  "That's not gonna happen.  It's not just the price of tolls, it's the traffic, one-and-a-half hours to get back into the city during rush hour and 45 minutes most other times.  You can fly from Florida to New York sometimes faster than driving between the Bronx and New Jersey.  If these guys are betting five times a week doing this, that's a loss of $150 a week or more than $7500 a year."

Morandi added: "I don't doubt they're visiting the Meadowlands, just not for every game they want to place a bet on.  That's not going to happen."

The PremierPerHead.com CEO added that the story simply doesn't make any sense unless Jasper refuses to use a Pay Per Head.  Even in the tri-state area, head counts (customer counts) for bookmakers has increased over the past year.  Morandi claims this is due in no small part to sports betting becoming more mainstream.

"Especially in the New York City area, sports gamblers are being bombarded by advertisements for sportsbook apps available only in New Jersey," he said.  Half the NJ state media market is served by New York City television and radio, so those ads are heard throughout Southeastern New York.  "These guys in NYC, the Bronx, Queens are going to want in on the action, and they ain't traveling to New Jersey every day to place those bets.  That' a lot of bulls***.  This Jasper guy probably just doesn't want to use my software to offer his clients live in-play betting and other great tools."

Presumably Jasper is utilizing one of Morandi's competitors as he tells TheLines.com customers call into a number in Costa Rica to place wagers.  This is where over 90% of Pay Per Head outfits are located.  They charge a small set fee per customer per week to outsource the bookmaker's business.  It's all legal as they simply provide the call center and website management service.  Bet taking in jurisdictions like Costa Rica is legal.

"If he were using my service, he'd get that $100,000 a year back," Morandi quipped.

Jasper tells TheLines.com he lost nearly all of his players from New Jersey, presumably those commuting in and out of Manhattan for work.

“I lost all of my guys in New Jersey except one or two. And these were Wall Street guys with huge accounts. They would hand over $15,000 or $20,000 like it was nothing,” Jasper told TheLines.com.

“I would pay $40 to park near Times Square. And then I had to know where to find a payphone because you can’t get into any of the big Midtown office buildings without an ID anymore, and I don’t need people knowing who I am.

“You think it’s easy to find a payphone in Manhattan these days? It isn’t. But you do what you have to do,” he said. “I would say, in a year, I would pull in $15,000 from these guys."

But the Bronx bookie remains hopeful.

“Some of my old clients are now doing this with a credit card over in New Jersey, and they don’t realize the implications in terms of taxes, wives, etc. One day, a bunch of them will be begging me to come back,” he said.

- Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com

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