Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Bookies going way of numbers racket?

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled this week that states ought to have the right to come up with legal ways for people to place bets on ballgames without having to worry about the long arm of the law treating them like criminals.
HARRIS: Tried to take Ill. lead on issue

Yet I can’t help but think that for many people, the idea of going to an officially-sanctioned betting parlor to place a few bucks down on a sports event won’t have much appeal.

FOR THEM, THE notion of the bookie and the illicit nature of their act IS the whole point. The last thing they want to do is partake in an event in which the state would take a cut of the proceeds – and would be responsible for guaranteeing that the prize is actually paid off if they win.

Because for the kind of people inclined to want to place bets on sports events, the motivation is the payoff. They want to win the prize, and likely could care less about the ball game itself.

So long as they beat the spread, who actually wins is irrelevant. Just like in the early days of riverboat casinos when some thought people would enjoy the idea of a cruise while placing bets – only to find out people only cared about the bet and those “boats” are all now land-based.

As for those people who all those years showed their devotion to Chicago Cubs baseball placed a bet annually in Las Vegas that their favorite ballclub would win the World Series? Suckers!!!

SO I WAS somewhat amused to hear some people react to the Supreme Court’s ruling by saying that sports betting could actually increase interest in sports events. Not likely.

Unless you want to think of sports fans as the ultimate chumps eager to waste their time and throw away their money by playing the odds of how a particular ballgame goes.

I don’t know how Illinois will wind up structuring a sports betting system, although I’m sure our political people will be greedy enough to want to have another revenue stream to tax. They’ll probably also try defining the concept as being something similar to the Illinois State Lottery and all those games people can play on the potential promise of a payoff. State Sen. Napoleon Harris, D-Harvey -- himself a one-time professional football player -- already has a bill introduced on the issue.
How many placed bet, for kicks, and wound up winning?

Fantasies of being set for life financially, just by picking the right set of numbers.

I MAKE THE lottery comparison because I can recall my own time as a full-time police reporter-type person – which was in the late 1980s and I can recall the occasional stories I’d write about busts and raids that were conducted related to the “illegal lottery,” which is what once was commonly known as the numbers racket.

You play your number and place your bet with a bookie – who in some cases would take as little as a nickel bet, with the potential payoff of $30-40 if you got the right set.

Or nothing, if you were in the majority who didn’t get the right number.

Of course, you’d have to take the chance that the bookie was an honorable sort who’d actually pay up on the people who “won” and wasn’t just counting on all the nickels of losers to add up to dollars that would enrich themselves.

YOU MIGHT WONDER why anybody would keep playing numbers when they could just plop down a dollar or two for lottery tickets and a potentially larger prize. Yet for some people, the official lottery came with too many rules and too much structure and regulation. The illicit overtones are what make it worth doing, while those who prefer a so-called "legitimate" bookmaker probably aren't going to bet enough to make it worth anyone's while financially.
How sport, and gambling really don't mix

Gamblers preferred the informal and unofficial nature of the old numbers racket. Just as I’m sure they’re going to prefer to place bets through a bookie on whatever basketball or football game catches their attention.

So for all the people who think that sports betting will make the state of Illinois wealthy (or at least capable of paying all its bills in a timely maner), I suspect that listeners of the old WMAQ-AM radio had better odds of achieving wealth.

Remember back when one could win a prize if the station called you, and your unsolicited response was, “WMAQ’s gonna make me rich!”


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