She knew bettor.
A wife furious with her football-obsessed husband dropped a dime on a
Staten Island gin mill — sparking a rare raid that shut down $600,000
in Super Bowl pools last week.
“How can the SLA allow a $1 million illegal football pool at Talk of
the Town?” the angry spouse wrote the State Liquor Authority on Nov. 13.
“My husband spends all his money on these pools and not on our children.”
The SLA put a rush investigation on the anonymous complaint. Last
Sunday night, two investigators barged into the neighborhood saloon’s
annual Christmas party. They flashed badges and snapped photos of pool
boards taped to the mirrored bar back, witnesses told The New York Post.
The Talk of the Town Tavern, at 24 Giffords Lane in the Great Kills
section, was advised to shut down the gambling. SLA lawyers are now
reviewing whether to slap the owner, Larry Burkert, 55, with violations
carrying a typical fine of $2,500 for a first offense. The bar has told
patrons the pools are dead and bettors will get refunds, sources said.
The crackdown comes as New York/New Jersey hosts the first-ever local Super Bowl on Feb 2.
The 71-year-old Talk of the Town tavern, known for its $1.50 drafts
and sawdust-covered shuffleboard table, has been running Super Bowl
pools for decades — like thousands of other bars in New York City. Its
friendly barkeeps sell “boxes” to mostly blue-collar and civil-servant
patrons for six different pools.
One pool goes for $2,000 a box, bringing in a total of $200,000. Two pools are worth $100,000 each, and four are $50,000 each.
Local authorities have long looked the other way as New Yorkers drop
millions of bucks on the big game in bar and office pools. That’s
because the contests are random and the “house” usually doesn’t profit
“Nobody gets hurt,” said an SLA insider.
But that was before an angry wife piped up.
“The Talk,” as locals call it, is known to take 10 percent off the
top — patrons view it as a “tip” to the organizers who spend a year
collecting bets and keeping the books. Burkert declined to comment on
the SLA sting, saying it would be litigated.
An SLA spokesman said the agency “does not comment on pending complaints or investigations.”
Under state liquor law, “No person licensed to sell alcoholic
beverages shall suffer or permit any gambling on the licensed premises.”
“It’s really a victimless crime, but a money-making operation for the SLA,” the insider said.
“The fines are substantial considering the severity of the violation.”
But the potential winnings are big. The Post found a bar in The Bronx
last year with a “5,000-point-per-box” pool — code for a $500,000 total
prize at $5,000 per box.
And pools have been known to grace even the walls of police station houses and district attorney’s offices.
Gotham’s biggest boxes are the hardest to get into. Even if you have a
cool $5,000 to pony up, big- money pools are usually word-of-mouth
affairs spoken of in hushed tones.
“If somebody desperate hears about it and shoots up a bar looking for
half a million — that’s why nobody wants to talk about it,” said a man
in a North Bronx saloon.