Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
There has recently been a call by Oak Bluffs voters for thoughtful discussion around the many issues surrounding the Monster Shark Tournament. During last week’s selectman’s meeting, selectman Michael Santoro suggested that the town should consider asking for a portion of the gambling payouts called Calcuttas as a way of generating town funds to offset the increased security costs associated with sponsoring the shark tournament.
Calcuttas, sometimes known as Captain’s Bets, are wagers placed by the shark fishermen. Winning payouts go to the boat crew that catches the largest shark in the tournament. The winning payout in 2011 was $180,000.
I believe that the citizens of Oak Bluffs would benefit from an open discussion on the specific details of this unregulated and quasi-legal betting operation that transpires each summer on the harbor front during the shark tournament.
The public may be interested in the records of bets placed, the amounts, categories of wagers, tax records of revenues received and disbursed as well as documentation of existing town oversight of this gambling activity.
Since Mr. Santoro has publicly raised the possibility of utilizing a portion of these gambling proceeds for municipal purposes, it seems an appropriate time for you to consider investigating the scope and impact of Calcuttas on the town.
Thank you for your attention to this important shark tournament related issue.
Steve Maxner, West Tisbury