Here's one chef's recipe for making a winner out of the Jackpot at Charles Town.
"Start with the favorite. Enrich with a to-60-1 shot. Toss a girl rider foer spice. Add a bug boy who needs seasoning. Mix carefully. Throw out all the Spanish-speaking jockeys. Then serve."
There are fans here who swear this is the magic combination when it comes to enjoying one of the big pay-offs on the last race each night. Trouble is, given the four or five basic in the exact 1-2-3-4 order or the better winds up in a strew.
The Jackpot has been the most popular item on Charles Town's racing menu since it was first offered in 1975. Or at least was until recently, when the Internal Revenue Service started to take out a big bite at the source, at the cashiers' windows.
The Jackpot pays off at odds of 300 to 1 or higher for a $1,000 (or considerably higher) return more than 80 per cent of the time.
Underthe new IRS regulation, Form 1099 has been replaced by Form 5754 and W-2 G. The Treasury Department has, in effect, publicly admitted that it did not have the resources to cross-check who has reporting their 1099 winnings and who was not.
"The IRS caught a lot of heat from the government for putting the 1099s in a back room in Seattle or some-place, and racing took it on the chin," one racetrack executive noted. "The IRS was getting 85 to 90 per cent compliance from the betting public, despite all the talk about the '10-per-centers,' the middle men. Now we still have the 10-per-centers at work when the payoff is $600 to $1,000. What scares you is that the government has just gotten its foot in the door. Watch out!"
The reaction here has been that the big gamblers are stepping back and letting the little guys play with the Jackpot. The amounts of money wagered on the Jackpot now is only slightly more than is bet on the win, place and show pools for the same race and that represents a dramatic change.
"We're down $8,000 to $10,000 a night in the Jackpot," general manager Bob Leavitt acknowledged. "There is no doubt we are being hurt, but I'm not certain yet of the overall pattern. The race betting seems to have increased somewhat.
"Our trizacta also was hurting at the beginning," Leavitt added. "Now it's back to a sensible level. The Big E is still popular. But I'm thinking of doing away with the Jackpot and replacing it with a trizacta."
Starting July 1, when the takeout will be increased here on all "exotic," or winning three or four-horse pools, from 17 1/4 to 25 per cent, the adverse effect on the mutuel handle should become even more pronounced. The $2 battor may not care how much he is taxed but the big boys certainly do. They aren't going to relish being taxed, 25 cents on every dollar when they make a bet - plus another 20 cents on that same dollar when they are mart enough or lucky enough to hit on a winning combination.
This is double taxation in its cruelest sporting form. The rate of takeout is becoming so high that a bettor might just as well throw his or her money into the lottery or, better yet, save it for wagering on sports events with the friendly neighborhood bookie whose vigorish is a tremendous bargain by comparison.
Tracks such as Charles Town, which features as many "exotics" as a burlesque house, are suffering.
"It is the small tracks that are really feeling the effect of the new regulations," Leavitt declared. "You can't put this on a national pattern and generalize. What effects New York very little raises hell with us. The new IRS regulation has taken $159,000 out of our action already, and that is money no longer available to be bet again in the so-called 'churn' effect.
"I don't see anyone suggesting that 20 per cent be taken out when a gambler goes back to cash in his chips in Las Vegas."
No, indeed. The Nevada casinos have too strong a lobby to let that happen. Instead, the government picks on the horse industry, an industry that is a sure loser when it comes to uniting for the common cause.
There is, at best, only one positive factort in the hell-raising caused by the IRS laws. They are driving people back to the win, place and show win dows and this probably will cut down on the amount of hanky-panky being done at the small track where huge payoffs are involved.
"The Jackpot's being run so straight lately you can harldy believe it," one cynic here contends.
But that is beside the pint. If a racetract can't police a Jackpot or a Big E properly, it can't handle the trizacta, the exacts or the daily double, either.
Fans want to have an opportunity to go for $20,000 with a $2 bet at least once or twice a night. It is up to the track to supervise the game properly and to seek a repeal in Congress so that the IRS will be forced to keep its grubby hands out of the cashiers' cages.