Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New York Legislation - My Way

Harnesslink.com has the story on the deal struck in New York about saving the industry. They call it this:

"The result of the Albany lawmakers’ patient cajoling is nothing short of the most significant and beneficial legislative passage harness racing has seen since the original promulgation of video lottery gaming in 2001.

It is hoped that with these new mandates, guideposts and economic incentives and opportunities that harness racing will continue to flourish as not only a significant and lucrative aspect of the state’s economy, but also as an extremely important player on the international harness scene.

No stakeholder can say that we haven’t been given the tools to do it."

I agree that this is a good thing for those tracks. And it seems there is a marketing allowance given to tracks' to try and get new people interested. I encourage everyone to read the harnesslink story as it is quite detailed.

Of course (it would not be a blog if I agreed with everything), I would have written this differently. Here is what I would have done:

The tax breaks and the like would have stayed the same. The percentages for purses would have been lowered by 0.25% and I would have taken 0.25% off of the breeding fund. As well, 25% of the mandated on-track marketing fund would have been siphoned off. With this cash I would have developed a slush fund for the future of New York harness racing.

First, I think it is painfully apparent that we do not know how to market harness racing. It has been tried and it has failed. When we give money to "marketing" in a broad sense it seems we might as well be flushing that money into the Erie Canal.

Second, a breeders fund I think is fine; but what in the heck do we need a breeders fund for when we already give 8.75% to purses? They can stand to have a quarter percent peeled off for the long-term welfare of the game.

So we have a budget. This budget is now the state-wide harness racing fund. It is allowed to grow over a year or two while we study the issues affecting racing in New York. A marketing man is hired, and over this year or two a small staff is assembled. With a budget, and a plan, that plan is then put into action in year three.

Perhaps the fund would be used like this: A person is hired for each track in the state, by the fund to work hand in hand with the on track staff. The work that was done in the past two years of study is implemented with that person and this is in addition to any local marketing.

The brand would grow through the New York state-wide chapter, while the track itself could focus on its core customers in its own unique way.

In the end we would hopefully have figured out a "horse marketing in a box" and each track would be an affiliate of it.

This type of thing is important. We need everyone on the same page. This is not a cut-up of the tracks. People there work hard. But they are working without any tools. We do not know how to market racing, so why in heavens name would we throw money at something we do not know how to do.

I would hope there is still time to do something like the above. I think it is worthwhile; perhaps even vital. According to this paragraph, it seems this is something we could think about (bolded):

At all New York harness tracks, 8.75 percent of the VLT net win will be allocated to purses, with an additional 1.25 percent distributed to the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund (Standardbred Fund).

The law specifically grants racino operators and the representative horsemen’s associations the right to agree to an increase or decrease in these percentages. Moreover, the percentages do not change the terms of existing contracts.

Horsemen and breeders: Do you want to take all of the cash for purses to live for today and repeat the mistakes of the past, or do you want to grow for tomorrow?

The choice is yours.

The full story with details is a good read. It is here if you have not read it.

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