Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Tipping Point

This week "The Journal", a West Virginia news paper printed an article about the push for table games at the racetracks. The people of West Virginia fear that slot machines in Pennsylvania will hurt business at the slot palaces / racetracks in the state. The article speaks about the possibility of lost revenues and jobs at the hotels, resorts, and casinos.

When I first read the article, it all made sense. The more I thought about it, I started to think........Did they even mention horse racing in the article? The answer, not really. The only speak of the horse industry was about another issue in which the legislature decided to move $11 million from the purses into the states Workers Compensation Debt Reduction Fund (this is a post for another day). So this started me thinking for the last few days.

My thoughts took me back a few years ago when I read Malcom Gladwell's "The Tipping Point." I began to wonder when the scale would tip from "slots benefit racing" to "racing is a burden on the casinos."

At Charles Town, Racing and Slots (in West Virginia) the emphasis is definitelyly not on the horse racing. You walk into a huge slot palace, and have to follow what seems like miles of hallways to find the racetrack. Alan at Left at The Gate wrote about this issue at Yonkers Racetrack in New York. They have slots, but no horse racing (yet). Here in Baltimore, the talk is about adding slot machines to Pimlico Race Couse. Lots of talk about slots, but no talk about adding racing dates. Currently, Pimlico has only 40 days of racing each year. If the state allows Magna to put slots in, do you think wit will be a track with slots, or vice versa?

I have been very ouspoken about allowing slots in Martyland. Now, I think that I should be careful what I wish for. By the time we realize that horse racing has "tipped" it may be too late!


Anonymous said...

Amen, brother!

Yes, slots have boosted pursues in many places, and as a guy who owns some horses in MD, I'm all for that.

But... a) it's clear everywhere you look that slots and racing are, at best, a marriage of convenience, specifically, the convenience of the slots and casino guys. For proof... look to Pennsylvania, where the building of the slot palaces has necessitated the cancellation of the state's signature race in 2006, the Pennsy Derby, and the demolition of the grandstand/clubhouse at Penn National (cuz who wants to be comfortable when watching races?)

b) The chase for slots is ultimately beside the point. THe real issue for horseracing is this: their core market is aging quickly and not being replaced by younger fans and bettors. All the slots in the world won't change that fact. And apparently, the powers that be in racing aren't inclined to try to change it either, based on their actions.

Anonymous said...

Amen to both of youse!

A committee is formed for the express purpose, always, of avoiding change and defending the status quo.

Rather than make the changes needed, the racing boys are just going to bring in the slots, which are a lot less messy to manage.

Anonymous said...

amenw, again!


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