Assemblyman Micah Kellner: Let’s Bet at NYC Bars Again


The more, the merrier. Or, in this case, the more vices, the better. At least that’s what New York Assemblyman Micah Kellner thinks and just in time for the Kentucky Derby and Cinco De Mayo.

In an interview today on the radio station WCBS 880, he introduced his plan to bring back the betting kiosks of old to local drinking holes in the Big Apple.
These terminals allowed hoppers and party-goers to legally put money down on horse races, as well as other sporting events, and were usually funded by the now-defunct Off-Track Betting Corp. (better known to us as the dark green letters, “OTB”). It was a supplement of gambling to drinking and, according to Kellner, raised $165 million a year. Now we’re listening.

When OTB showed symptoms of bankruptcy in 2010, the betting company planned to move away from its static store presence by offering these kiosks to bar owners. As Tina Moore of The Daily News wrote, “The pitch is simple: more drinking means more gambling, which equals more profits.”

But bartenders were weary of the plan because, truth be told, there’s other consequences of “more gambling” besides “more profits” – a natural side-effect of mixing alot of money with alot of alcohol. With that being said, the OTB proposal was short-lived and Kellner is now here to bring the dollar signs back to life. And he has high aspirations for his drunken cash machines.

He thinks that the machines could be set up before the Preakness in Maryland (May 19th) and the Belmont Stakes on Long Island (June 9th). And, if the plan is passed, 10% of all profits will go to education; a section of our City that is in desperate need of any cash it can get its hands on.

That says something about the state of our budget and where our priorities happen to be, tough. To bring betting back into the bar environment, the future of our children can be used as an argument and justification. We can cheers and empty our wallets to that.