Even today in some circles we don't hear alarm when talking about handle decreases. "It's ok, we have slots." In this month's Trot Magazine there is a chart that certainly shoots down that theory. I believe it is a subtle nudge to some that we have to start taking handle losses seriously.
On page 34 a chart entitled "Purse Distribution in Canadian Dollars" shows that in 2002 $252.5M was distributed in purses. In 2007, that figure fell to $224.4M, or a 12.5% decrease. This is of course reported in non-inflation adjusted dollars, so the result is much worse.
On the next page we see why this has happened. Pari-mutuel wagering in Canada was $862.9M in 2002. In 2007, it was $553.0M.
Slot money is playing a larger role in purses; but those purses are falling. This is causing the business in this country to recede. Less money for purses equals less owners, less trainers, less grooms, less feed men, less stallions, less mares and so on.
Could anyone imagine if tomorrow, or next year, it is decided that slots to purses are lowered? David Miller, Mayor of Toronto wants more of a share; maybe the government wants more of a share with a possible recession. Perhaps more important, the battle for the gambling dollar in neighbouring states with casino-type gambling, like New York and Michigan, as well as here at home is on the increase. Slots money has not exactly been growing leaps and bounds. What if that happens? With bettors leaving us in droves, there is no one left to fall back on.
This is a serious, serious issue. Perhaps the most serious one we have faced as a business in our history. I hope someone, somewhere is listening. We have to get our act together, if it is not already too late.
When you hear someone say "that's ok, we have slots," point him or her to Trot magazine and let them have a glance at reality.
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