Consider the bookies

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Don’t forget to tell your bookie you miss him.

I got another confession to make —  just heard Dave Grohl sing that line in my head — and as a Catholic boy, my confessions are serious business.

So here goes.

Prior to New Hampshire legalizing sports gambling through Draft Kings on Dec. 30, in the pre-COVID days before collegiate and professional sports came to a sudden halt in March, I was still placing bets, technically illegal, through a local bookmaker.

I’ll give everyone a second to bask in my depravity.

But it’s true. On a random Tuesday night, I might drop $50 on the over in a Detroit Pistons/Chicago Bulls game where otherwise I couldn’t care less about the outcome. The next night, I might drop a few beans on the first period over between the Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks. While far from a degenerate gambler, I liked the action.

And here comes another stunner. I was far from the only person placing illegal bets in The Queen City. From my observations, it seemed many of the denizens of good ole’ Manch-Vegas share a hankering for sports gambling.

From straight-up bets to gambling squares to Old School football cards, if one wanted to place a bet in these parts, the only requirements were that they be discreet and pay their debts when they lose.

Then Draft Kings arrived, and suddenly, the local bookies became expendable, their livelihood imperiled. In one fell swoop, many bookies were either underemployed or out of work.

Personally, I had no patience for placing bets through the Draft Kings app on my Android phone that belongs in The Smithsonian. Betting through the bookie was fast and reliable. If I got a tip that David Pastrnak was closing the Boston bars the night before a game at The TD Garden, I could hammer that first period under seconds before face-off and not have to worry about the lag on the Draft Kings site.

Then in mid-March, our worlds turned upside-down.

The sports’ vacuum has affected many fans, from the fairly innocuous follower of the home teams to someone whose wife wakes them up at 5 a.m. on a Monday morning with a pillow to the head to berate them about a sizeable debit in the bank account—a hypothetical situation, of course.

But few have considered the toll this has taken on the bookies.

The bookies took plays and placed their own economic livelihood on the line long before the corporate giants at Draft Kings swooped in to pick the flesh from their local bones.

These noble bookies would take your bets and disingenuously wish you “good luck” after you took Dallas giving 6.5 points against the crappy-ass Giants, despite the fact that you always lose—every, freaking time!—when you bet on the Dallas Cowboys, you moron!

Maybe I’m projecting now.

Still, when COVID-19 closed down the world, said bookies couldn’t claim unemployment after their ancillary industry was shut down, after legal sports gambling in New Hampshire threatened to make their jobs effectively obsolete. There were no stimulus checks for the bookies.

With sports attempting to make a comeback now, let’s consider the local bookies when placing a prop bet on how many Houston Astros players will get plunked in the 60-game season. Instead of Draft Kings, send your local bookie a text. Say hello. Tell them you miss them. Don’t bitch about the Vig, and show them some love—it’s good for your gambling karma.

We’re all trying to get back to normal here and we need to support our local workers and businesses. So while getting back in the swing of sports, however ephemeral it might be, be sure to consider the bookies.


About this Author

Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Fly Like The Seagull was published by Luchador Press in 2020. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: