Why Some Politicians Don’t Like Bookies?

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A lot has been discussed in different online betting forums about gambling legislation, but I think it is always good to go back and talk a little more about this issue, because it’s very important that everybody understands these legal topics and the politics behind them. It’s very easy for us regular citizens to think that if the law prohibits something or if the law is enforced in a certain way it is because there are only good intentions behind the legislation or the enforcement.

We have to understand that in certain occasions the law is used by individuals or groups to pursue their agendas, not to benefit society as a whole. A good example of this problem is exemplified by politicians who attack gambling in general and bookies in particular based on “moral” grounds, but in reality the reasons that motivate them to prosecute gambling are based on purely political reasons.

City and state budgets represent power.  The more money a politician has at his/her disposal the more power he/she has to push the political agenda and the better the chances that he/she can go up the ladder of a career in politics. The other day as I was searching for information related to betting legislation I found this New York Times old article (old in Internet years anyway, it’s from 2004) in which the reporter clearly exposes the main motivator behind the city of New York’s push against bookies during that year:


The reason given to the reporter to justify the prosecution of gambling activities is deceptively simple: Gambling money is the fuel of the engine of organized crime, they claim. One could easily argue that  drugs are actually the fuel that moves all forms of crime in general, not only organized crime! But the real intention behind betting slip confiscations and gambling prosecutions is to decimate competitors so that among others, the state lottery and the money it produces can grow without restrictions. In reality, they, as well as many respected citizens, want to become bookmakers. The lottery, at the same time, is not necessarily used for the original purpose so much publicized in the papers and TV, but in reality is used to fund the state’s budget. Talking about the final purpose of the state lottery, the reporter quotes:

“BUT that is ''just a myth,'' the former state comptroller, H. Carl McCall, concluded in a 1998 report. Nothing has changed, said a spokesman for the current comptroller, Alan G. Hevesi.

In fact, each lottery dollar that goes to schools is one less dollar that the governor and the Legislature have to spend from the regular budget. You could just as accurately say that lottery money helps pay for drug programs or new televisions at Attica state prison. You just might not sell as many Pick 10 tickets that way.”


Six years have passed since 2004 but not many things have changed in politics it seems. So, why some politicians don’t like bookies? Well, we’re just doing our job and serving a market that has always existed and will always exist, but it looks like some politicians just don’t want to have any competitors.

One thing has changed since 2004 though: Most agents don’t have to deal with betting slips anymore as the article describes. That job is now normally done in bookie call centers or pay per head services, which help bookies to avoid unnecessary legal exposure.

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