Just Ask Mr. Sneiv: Are East End Bookies a Dying Breed?

Hand giving money - United States Dollars (or USD)
Photo: Kritchanut/123RF

The impact of the 2018 United States Supreme Court decision to deregulate each state’s right to legalized sports betting has thus far left East End bookies relatively safe. But for how long?

On May 14, in a majority verdict, the court invalidated the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 that disallowed states to promote, operate, license, authorize or sponsor sports betting. So now it is to be left up to each individual state as to whether they will permit this type of sports gambling. New York has been effectively waiting in the wings for this ruling. Going forward, this type of wagering would be limited to a few places and none of these are currently located in the Hamptons. But who can say how long that will last.

While New York continues to work on their platform, it is understood that initially there will only be four non-Indian nation venues where sports betting will be made legal, those being Resorts World Catskills, Del Lago Resort & Casino, and Tioga Downs Casio Resort and Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady. This is due to a 2013 law that only allows sports books to be physically located in non-Indian nation casinos that have opened since 2016.

My bookie doesn’t seem too worried. “There will always be people on the East End who don’t want to be seen or [don’t] have the time to place a legal bet. The tax implications may also be a factor,” he says. “My clients want to be able to pick up the phone and know that I am on the other end ready to take their action. And as a matter of convenience, win or lose, they can be rest assured I will stop by and discreetly handle the money aspect of the transaction. That’s the way it has always been around these parts.”

Back in August, I was out of town and wanted to place a bet on the Annual Artists and Writers Charity Softball Game. “Give me a dime on the writers,” was all I needed to say to have my bet locked in. Of course, my intuition was correct and the writers ended up winning.

I can’t fathom the concept of losing my bookie to legalized sports betting. He’s my friend. He doesn’t require money up front when I place a bet. Sometimes when I lose, like I did on a Yankees playoff game this fall, he allows me to double down with another bet before I even pay off the previous one. And when I recently had the flu, he brought me the week’s NFL betting sheet and chicken soup. That’s the type of man he is. Customer service is paramount to him.

If you don’t believe that we could lose this valuable resource, just think of what transpired when prohibition was repealed and many East End bootleggers were effectively put out of business. I don’t want to see the same type of action eliminate bookies, who I feel offer a very important service to our area.

If the state of New York gets into a position that it gains significant revenue from the sports gambling business, who knows how far they might take it? There could eventually be sports books on every street corner in our precious cities, towns and hamlets.

Read more from Mr. Sneiv.

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