The Good Old Days

by Ed Meyer

posted on December 3, 2008 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

I was at the track yesterday. I know tough job, and I love it…. I ran into an old friend. This was more than a conversation. It was a look at what might be to come. Funny thing. People have never ceased to surprise me at the track, and this day was no different.

I had a run in with an older gent. His name is Skeetus. Where he got that name is a mystery. Maybe he lost a bet when he was young and it stuck..

Skeetus is retired. He has the look of an older athlete, and his mind is pretty sharp most days. This day he was razor sharp.

He has known me all of my life and asked me what is a player suppose to do when they cannot bet on TVG, Twinspires, or anything else for the tracks they choose. It was a solid question and my ears were open. Skeetus enjoys the races. He is not there to make his car payment, just to enjoy the game and be a part of the action.

I didn’t know what to really tell him as there is a national dispute with ADW’s (wagering companies) and horsemen allowing signals to be sent out for wagering. His question stuck in my head for awhile, and I finally asked him, what do you think will happen?

He sat back, took a drink of his bottled water and proceeded to tell me stories of how bookmakers were the ruling party long before any legal gaming was taking place. “Everyone had a man to bet with.” There was a handbook at every bar, in every town. The bookies would take your action, and you would settle up weekly.

I asked him, “you would wait a week to collect or pay your wagers.” He answered, yes… Sometimes it would take the bookmakers a day or two to get results from California.” This was long before the Internet, or a national TV show. He spoke of a radio signal out of Canada that gave out the results of every track running in ten minutes. Those were fun days he recalled, telling me about a big hit he had long ago. But in fact, it could have been just a minute gone by with his detail of the event and how sweet the win was for him.

I digress…  Skeetus wasn’t just telling me about the old days. He was telling me the current situations that do not allow a player to get their bet down would bring new bookmakers back on the scene. To quote the Godfather, “just when they thought I was out, they pulled me back in.”  I think he is right..

People have grown used to betting by phone, computer, and whatever ease of motion they choose. They have lives, work, children. They can’t be at the track all of the time. He was right. If this continues, they will be back in the game.

After a lesson in how history may repeat itself, Skeetus had to leave to catch the “early-bird” dinner special. After all, you can’t be out at the track all day. As I watched him walk away, I realized that he may be right….