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THE GOOSE THAT KILLS
Off-Track Betting has created an ever-increasing source of revenue for New York City since it arrived last April 8 like a golden egg. The operation will no doubt be emulated around the country. But OTB has also helped cause a notable decline in on-track attendance and handle. The State of New York, which takes the largest bite out of the track bettor's dollar, 10%, has responded with a bid to take over OTB. Let the city and state fight it out as they will—as long as everyone keeps sight of just which goose is laying which kind of egg. The real question is how much OTB money will go to the tracks.
In France the tracks get 10.45% of off-track money, and racing is prospering. In Britain the tracks get only .5% from the bookmakers, and some tracks have suffered severe reverses. In New York the tracks get 1% of OTB revenue, which is not enough to offset what OTB takes away. The tracks' losses are being passed on to horsemen in the form of diminishing purses. The horsemen will go where they can get more money. Unless the New York tracks get a substantially larger cut from OTB, there will eventually be no action, much less golden eggs, either off-track or on.
"Wilderness rationing," says a spokesman for the California Forest Service, "is a last-ditch management stance." It will be two or three years, the spokesman said, before the wilds of California have to be meted out to consumers as gasoline and butter were during World War II.
But the Federal Government has just announced, for the first time in the nation's history, camping restrictions which come close to rationing. Kings Canyon National Park in the Rae Lakes area along California's John Muir Trail will be limited to 15,000 visitors (a visitor being defined as one person staying for 12 hours) for the season. Once the maximum allowable visitor total is reached, "park rangers will encourage people to plan their trips so that they pass through the area rather than stay overnight," says the Department of the Interior.
Similar regulations will be imposed in Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park and other wilderness areas that begin to show "clear evidence of biological or physical damage" as the summer progresses.
Who would have thought 200 years ago, while contemplating the American wilderness, that tourists could ever wear it out?
There is a new '50s, shooby-doo-style record out, by a group known as Ronnie and the Daytonas, about a youth who gets in trouble raising money to take his girl to the senior prom. The girl's lament ends as follows: