Purses are down.
Slots are down.
Handle is down.
Tracks are closing.
The time to grow using this subsidy is growing smaller and smaller. A couple of days ago, Bob McCown of Sports radio FAN 590 in Toronto let racing have it. It was with regards to Fort Erie closing. According to a good poster on a chat board:
Bob McCown of Prime Time Sports devoted the first 15 minutes of his show tonight on the Fan 590 to this subject. He basically said let horse racing die, it has been dead for a long time. It was a powerful condemnation of the government continuing to prop up horse racing via racinos/slots.
Further, John Swetye, long time horseplayer and VP of the Horseplayers Association had a very good piece on slots, and what they have done to handles.
Thalheimer and Ali present an ominous scenario in their paper entitled, "Pari-Mutuel Horse Race Wagering -- Competition from Within and Outside the Industry" (The paper can be found in "Handbook of Sports and Lottery Markets" by Hausch and Ziemba). Their research shows that when video lottery terminals (VLTs) are placed at pari-mutuel facilities, pari-mutuel handle decreases by 29% at the 114 VLT level and 39% at the 3,000 VLT level.
We have taken the cash, gotten drunk on it, and gave the game nothing back. When slots are gone (and they will be, we all know that), the game as we know it will no longer exist.