Monday, May 15, 2006

"Horse racing is betting on Internet wagering

Todays Baltimore Sun had a feature article titled "Horse racing is betting on Internet wagering". The article, is filled with quotes from Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) president Joe DeFrancis. The MJC is the owner of both Laurel and Pimlico racetracks, and was sold by DeFrancis to Magna Entertainment Corp. in 2002. DeFrancis also has the title of Executive vice president for operations of interactive betting channels for Magna Entertainment...but that is a post for another day.

In the article, DeFrancis speaks of how internet wagering is going create a greater fan base for the sport. I have to strongly disagree with Mr. DeFrancis. I did not fall in love with the sport by watching it on TV or a computer monitor. The love of the game comes from visits to the track. Leaning on the rail as the horses charge toward the wire. Almost every fan recalls the first time they went to the track, the walks to the paddock, and the roar of the crowd as the horses cross the finish line. Those are the moments that have meaning. The bonding between father and son does not come from internet wagering. 30 years from now does my kid share this story:

"I remember when my father came running up the stairs from the basement yelling.....I hit the 10 cent super at Santa Anita for $36. Mom and I came rushing over and gave him a big hug. That is when I fell in love with the ponies".

That will never happen! The fan base is shrinking. It is shrinking quick. Just because the handle is increasing does not mean that more people are coming out to the tracks. An increase in internet wagering does not mean that you are creating a new young fan base. Open your eyes Joe DeFrancis.

DeFrancis and Magna Entertainment....Do you want to know how to increase the fan base and get young people involved and interested? Fix up you tracks in Maryland. Make Pimlico a safe place to park. Offer a family friendly environment. Ask people what they want.

When the owners of the local tracks are concentrating efforts on the internet, and not the grandstands..........It is probably too late to fix the problems!

1 comment:

Pjon10 said...

Baloo, I read the same article this morning and while I agree that internet betting should be explored to help expand the sport, I agree with 100% that my attraction to going to the track was just that, Going to the Track! I generally would prefer to see the horse I bet on live than bet on them via the TV or internet.


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