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Upside Down

Yesterday at an industry meeting near Toronto, this speech was given:

"The one point that I want to discuss is your future and what it depends on. It is more than about the money, it is about the customer. Your future depends on how many people are coming to the track and how many people are coming to the track and betting. The government is going to support you based on how many customers you have and how much money they wager, so that's your future. Everyone, collectively, has to think about how you attract bettors and customers to the track and regain interest in the industry."

"I said this yesterday: two years ago if we had one of these (industry consultation sessions) I don't think we would have heard 'customer' or 'horseplayer' mentioned. It would have just been about how much money there was and how we were going to divide it up.

"The future depends on the customer --- the same as McDonald's, it depends on how many hamburgers they sell. This business depends on how many dollars are coming through that (wagering) window --- that's what you're all about."

Pop Quiz: Who said it?

a) Jeff Platt - President of the Horseplayers Association of North America
b) That rabble rousing horseplayer @insidethepylons on twitter
c) One of the people who are going to be running horse racing in the Province of Ontario

It is shocking, but it's c.

Think about that line of questioning when it comes to the headlines in Ohio, or last year in New York, which have received slots and gaming money. Most of the time the talk is about fights for splits, how much a stakes race is going to go for, how much purse money are put into overnights, breeding and everything else. When a slot deal is passed you'd wonder if a customer even exists. 

Ontario has received over $4B in slot money since the original deal was passed in the late 1990's. About $345 million poured into the coffers of racing a year. Last year, of course, it was discontinued.

Ontario has a long, long way to go. It might never recover. But one thing is for sure, if you are a customer, you are higher on the fiefdom totem pole than you ever have been in horse racing, anywhere in the world. Horse racing has been completely turned upside down.


Comments

Anonymous said…
Linking betting handle to govt support/subsidy of the racing industry is the most brilliant move ever seen in the last 50 years of govt regulation and involvement in racing.

Clearly, this linkage (which triggers govt subsidy payments to racing only if handle increases justify it) makes all key participants fully accountable for their actions AND INACTIONS. Especially the horsemen. No longer will they be able to just stand there with their "hands out" and receive money simply for "showing up". They will be expected to put on a competitive show which attracts customers and betting. And for the last 15 years (ie. the era of SARP) that was uncommon.

Furthermore this new govt plan will finally end the perverse scenario of horsemen running in races where the purse is 10x-30x the betting handle. The rationale of how this scenario was ever accepted and was ever permitted to occur will always be a deep mystery. Thank goodness the Ontario govt has finally acted and acted correctly.