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Often have I wondered why pols on permanent welfare make such a fuss over “making horse racing stand on its own feet” in New Jersey as the governor and aides work to benefit Atlantic City casinos, or by stonewalling implementation of a racino at Aqueduct racetrack in New York that has been approved for years, or by personally blocking access to slots in Kentucky so that in-state dollars cross the Ohio River to enrich neighbors across the border?

Well, the principal actors in this foolishness are politicians. So perhaps it comes down to bribes.

At this point, one is left wondering if anything else moves a pulseless pol to actually do something.

The impulse to ask who might be paying is less clear. Bribes, by their nature, are secret. Or most of them are.

While mulling over this question, one recalls that federal legislation 20-odd years ago killed illegal gambling, the bookies and smoke-filled back-rooms and shady drama of covert commerce.

It was an accident, of course. Nobody pushing for interstate pools on horse racing had an inkling it would snuff the lifeblood of gambling operations run by the families of organized crime, did they?

The families, however, didn’t go away. They lost money fast and had to adapt, even evolve, faster than ever. Their illegal businesses had just been legalized; now they had to find a way to share in the gravy, right?

So, are we supposed to believe that they haven’t done so?