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Race Caller Sues Over Gambling

February 8, 1999

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ The race caller at the nation’s premier harness track sued the Meadowlands on Monday, claiming his employers are giving him added duties that threaten his recovery from compulsive gambling and might tempt him to begin betting again.

John Bothe, 43, contends his compulsive gambling is a disability and Meadowlands Racetrack management is discriminating against him because of it.

While other workers have won back pay and other claims against employers who fired them for problem gambling, Bothe’s lawsuit is believed to be one of the first filed by someone employed in the gambling industry.

Bothe, known as ``The Voice of the Meadowlands,″ began working at the track in 1979.

The dispute arose in December, when Bothe (pronounced BOHTH-ee) was told his duties on a daily closed-circuit television show for track patrons would include ``handicapping″ the races _ predicting the winners.

Bothe balked, asserting that picking horses would rekindle the gambling fever that nearly ruined his life.

The track operator, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, would not comment on the case.

Bothe attends weekly Gamblers Anonymous meetings and works a second job _ reading the weather on WCBS-AM in New York _ to pay more than $100,000 in debts from two decades of gambling. He said he has not placed a bet for nearly seven years despite working within feet of wagering windows.

His therapist and colleagues in Gamblers Anonymous all advised him against accepting the new duties, Bothe said. ``They said, `For your life’s sake, you cannot do that,‴ he said. ``I’m a compulsive gambler. A sick one.″

He said track officials responded by threatening to cut his pay from $73,000 to $52,000.

He is suing in state court under New Jersey’s anti-discrimination law.