Wednesday, March 14, 2012

$lots World, Episode 12

We've been on this story for years. We've been to wagering conferences speaking of upping the bet from slot cash, we've written white papers on trying to bring exchange wagering to Canada so we can try and get a new demo involved in racing. I've probably argued with you on twitter about New York's most recent slot deal and how I think sticking all the cash into purses or site improvements like Ontario and Pennsylvania did is a sure-fire way to lose. We've been trying.

But I'm only a dumb bettor that owns a few horses.

Now we have someone smart who seems to be getting his message through.

Jeff Gural came out with a statement today on slots and racing. it was covered in virtually every trade - thoroughbred and harness so far.
  • In a statement released March 14, Gural said a poll of USTA members in Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania—states with racetrack gaming that supports racing—shows 84% favor using gaming revenue for enhanced equine drug-testing, and 87% support using funds for the marketing of harness racing, particularly efforts to attract younger participants.
  • “To continue to wait for track owners to reallocate money from the prime business of casino gambling is foolish."
Further, he touched on something that I think is vital to the whole proceedings - the disconnect from horseman groups.

As we've seen in California, the chasm between what the customer wants and what the TOC wants is as wide as the grand canyon.  This is emblematic in the industry as a whole and no matter what side you're on, this is a huge issue that protects the status-quo. In Canada, the recent plan in Ontario to use some purse money for other things to up the bet, was rejected, despite gathering over 1000 signatures from rank and file horsepeople to do just that.

Gural: "He commented that there appears to be a disconnect between the leaders of the horsemen’s association and the members. He is however, hopeful that these poll results will finally bring action on the part of the industry to use a small portion of the hundreds of millions of dollars from slots revenue to solve the drug problem, get us on national television and utilize other marketing tools that are available but at the present time unfunded."

I wonder if someone is going to listen since more than just dumb bettors are asking for it? I hope so.

Further news:

Windsor Raceway looks to be finished.  Hiawatha as well.

Fort Erie is likely done. In the broken record file (for blog readers anyway) this quote from a lottery insider states the obvious. “How do you justify sustaining it,” the source said. “It’s not making money. Thirty-five per cent of the purses from every race comes from the race itself and 55 per cent of the purse is propped up by slot revenues. The business model is not sustainable.”

For those who think that's just at Fort Erie, think again. About 35% of revenue for purses in US thoroughbred racing come from machines. This year with slots at NYRA, it'll probably go even higher.

It's a Slots World. But sooner or later the money dries up.


1 comment:

Pacingguy said...

Something not being mentioned by you yet is the responses on the Windsor Star comments page to the report. Unless you are someone in the industry, very few, if any, are mourning the loss of horse racing.

This is the result of the lost opportunities horsemen had to improve their image and marking. It goes to show you the promise of slots was never fulfilled. An opportunity lost.