As we spoke about below, Harrah's is trying to get out of a racing deal by paying Iowa $70M for them to not hold greyhound races. A congressperson agrees: "It's an industry that does not have a lot of following," Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, told The Register. "It doesn't make sense to subsidize something Iowans aren't interested in."
Several years ago it was proposed that some purse money goes to lowering rake, and to market the sport. It was met with "do not touch our purse money!" from most quarters. However, with the writing slowly being etched into the wall, there is a bit of a change in attitudes.
From Standardbred Canada a comment:
Harness racing is next.
Takeout needs to be lowered while racing is on the last leg of it's casino subsidies. That is the only way it will ever become a sustainable business on it's own.
When the subsidies are gone, will racing for about 10%-20% of current purse levels keep racing alive? Of course not. That is why racetracks don't even attempt to lower takeout so handle will increase. They want it to drop, claim that harness racing is dead, and then get rid of it. They can do this because they know horsemen are so greedy and stupid that they will never understand that giving up a little of their "welfare" money now, would be returned tenfold in the future while also becoming independent without the subsidies. Independence equals power. Harness racing has no power to do anything presently and will soon become obsolete just like dog racing in the article above.
The casinos are trying to find loopholes - this time with the greyhounds - to get out of having to subsidize racing or requiring them to make dates available. If this happens, you can bet your life Harrah's and Mohegan Sun will look to do the EXACT same thing at Chester and Pocono to start with.
Good. It's a step in the right direction. Too many horses, too many tracks that have minuscule handles yet gargantuan purses, too much complacency, too much of everything awful and not enough handle or interest in growing it. A totally false economy, and it's about time it started to get stood on it's head. I'll say this for WEG - they at least make a decent effort to accommodate the punters, messing with track configuration, barring perceived undesirables, D-barning the usual suspects, launching new wagering platforms etc. etc. You might disagree with what they're doing, but it's hard to argue with why they're doing it. It's to make it a more attractive place to play. I know, lower the rake and that'll do more than everything else combined..
Unless the horsepeople band together to begin better utilizing the horseman's share of slot revenues for effective long term initiatives to market the sport, and reinvest in the facilities we too will be at the mercy of the bureaucrats and casino operators. We have to make a concerted effort to market the sport and increase handle and attendance or we (harness racing) can and will become expendable.
Lets say we suggest taking 5% of our purse cut to market the sport per se. You'll first have the people who dont think our purses should be used for anything but purses. Secondly, you'll get most people onside, and even if it goes through, you'll then have to deal with the people who oppose once they realize that is around $8 million.
To me, the idea is brilliant. NASCAR spent millions marketing their sport, as has MMA and similar success stories. Our current marketing budget would be lucky to crack $400,000 so I could only imagine how well a marketing budget of that magnitude would help revive interest in our sport.
Unfortunately for those who understand it, the idea will never fly because the industry is filled with far to many who are so greedy that they cant see the forest through the trees. As a whole, we're ultra short term thinkers.
There are clearly some thoughtful people trying to change this sport for the better.
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