All around the country, local bars operate betting pools where patrons pay a set fee to buy a shot at taking home everyone else’s cash. At lots of bars, the price for a box is reasonable, but some pools charge thousands of dollars to check off a single box. These pools often go ignored by police and other authorities, but after the wife of a Staten Island gambler complained to the state about the large sums being wagered at a local bar, that establishment is no longer accepting bets.
According to the NY Post, a woman in Staten Island sent an anonymous letter to the NY State Liquor Authority, complaining, “My husband spends all his money on these pools and not on our children,” and asking how the SLA could allow a bar to operate what she claimed was a $1 million illegal football pool.
The Authority must have been moved by her letter, as it quickly sent investigators to snap photos of the pool boards — indicating who had purchased which boxes in each pool — taped to the mirrored wall behind the bar.
The total prize value of the pools wasn’t $1 million, but it was still pretty substantial. Four pools were set to pay out $50,000 each to their winners, another two were worth $100,000 each and the largest pool discovered by SLA investigators was worth $200,000. Of course, to win that prize you’d have to pay $2,000 per chance.
While NY state law forbids any gambling on the premises of an establishment with liquor license, one insider at the SLA tells the Post that shutting down operations like this isn’t about curbing illegal football pools, but about fattening the authority’s coffers.
“It’s really a victimless crime, but a money-making operation for the SLA,” the insider alleges. “The fines are substantial considering the severity of the violation.”