Today’s news:

Cement overcoat and shoes anyone?

We have struggled with the worst economic downturn in U.S. history since the Great Depression. We New Yorkers are currently wrestling with an unbalanced budget, increasing sales tax, increasing real estate taxes, cigarette taxes, higher utility costs, foreclosures, job loss and politicians that are craftier than Gov. Rod Blagojevich from Illinois.

The other day I heard a report that another victim of the downturn is OTB. The tote-taker was one racing form away from going belly up. However, the benevolent money lenders that hold the power of the plug over the hapless handicappers have reached a tentative deal, effectively forgiving its debts, and allowing it to restructure, thereby keeping the betting machine a nod ahead in the winning circle. Is it only me or is that smell something rotting in the hay?

I always thought that the house comes out on top? In fact gambling rules No. 1, 2, and 3 state, “Don’t bet against the house”; “The deck is stacked in the house’s favor”; and “The house always wins.”

What the heck happened to the house of OTB? How can one of the only legal gambling establishments in the city lose? It’s not like there’s loads of competition. I could almost understand it if the city allowed legal gambling parlors on every corner in the city where folks could take their chances and push Lady Luck, but OTB is the only legit way to bet on races without going to the track. In fact, the last time I checked, gambling is frowned upon by our law-abiding politicos. So other than chancing the odds the underground way and hitting a bookie with your bet, there ain’t no other place where one can lose one’s paycheck here in the Big Apple. Oh, wait. There is the lottery, but a scratch-off just doesn’t compare with the thrill of losing rent money on a long-shot Trifecta. Besides, not only is the house of OTB an odds-on favorite, it charges a pound of horse flesh on the winnings, too. I just don’t understand it.

The only explanation I can come up with is that OTB is run by the most incompetent bunch of yahoos this side of the paddock. I take that back, I don’t want to insult the yahoos out there.

Not for nuthin, but after the big restructure, the business jocks at OTB should ask the local bookies for helpful hints. After all, bookies give better odds, their employees have job security, they don’t charge tax and they never go out of business, although their cement costs are a bit higher.

JDelBuono@cnglocal.com

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