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Edison’s at the Starting Gate

 Manhasset Eatery Now Offers Gambling

Edison’s is the 12th location, of the 18 permitted by the NY State Racing and Wagering Board in Nassau County, to install two Fast Track gambling machines on the premises. The Fast Track Program is a way to participate in the sport of racing, without leaving your local pub—“Where else can you get a burger, a brew and a bet?” laughed Noel Michaels, director of player development, on the occasion of the ribbon cutting ceremony at Edison’s on Jan 21.

The ideal venue, Michaels said, is an upscale sports bar/restaurant that will attract the casual sports fan, younger individuals and couples. Two others restaurants in the area were outfitted with the equipment in the past few months—the Barefoot Peddler (Glen Cove) which is also owned by the owner of Edison’s and JT Bullets in Port Washington.

The first restaurant to house OTB Fast Track on the Island was BK Sweeney in Bethpage; it is still the most successful location. Trinity Restaurant in Floral Park, based on the “betting handle” or amount bet, is also highly successful; both restaurants surpassed $1 million in 2010.

The bar/restaurant receives 1 percent of the gross collected. There are also bonus level incentives, say, if a bar surpasses $1 million. Wagering in the bars is Advanced Deposit Wagering, is account based, and is somewhat similar to a debit card. The bartender acts as cashier.

“We take operational expenses, the largest of which is returned to winning bettors—in 2009 that was roughly $5 million, Michaels recalled, adding that in 2005-2006 checks to the county were for around $20 million—before the recession hit.

Off Track Betting closed in NYC; it went bankrupt, but  Nassau OTB, a separate entity, is expanding. Nassau County OTB is a state agency, Michaels said, a public benefit corporation, with the profit going to Nassau County, and, as a corporation, does $300 million a year. Michaels acknowledged Fast Track is a relatively small slice of what OTB collects, which also includes the Internet.

At the official ribbon cutting ceremony Nassau OTB representatives held raffles and supplied $2 race vouchers for all in attendance to use on the Fast Track machines. But one bettor at Edison’s obviously didn’t need encouragement, his eyes glued to the screen as his fingers flew knowingly across the keys, placing his bets. When an affable stranger wandered into his space, “Quiet! One minute to post” he shouted, effectively silencing him. “I’m loading up here, big time!”

“They’re at the starting gate now,” he said excitedly and hit “Video.”

The voiceover described the action, “They’re in the gate,” and moments later the voice filled the alcove, “Now on the inside. Lone Star Cowboy…”

The disembodied voice trailed on “In the middle of the track” but the frenetic bettor, disgust replacing excitement, exited the alcove tossing back, “Seven is terrible. I can’t even watch” and strode away.

Asked how much he’d bet, he growled, “A lot.” He bet #7 to finish second or third –it finished fourth.

“I woulda had the triple—couple hundred.”