A press release from the SOANY indicates a State of New York report shows live wagering at Yonkers Raceway increased 13.4% in the year 2008 despite racing fifty-four less racing dates. In 2008, the daily live handle increased to $69,075.
Those who are of the cup half empty mind set will be quick to point out that the handle does not support the purses Yonkers offers and the VLTs are supporting racing and in effect, putting the hurt (along with Chester) on the Meadowlands. This can't be denied. However, the bottom line is it shows you can get slot players interested in racing. The SOA on selected nights is meeting slot players when they are dropped off in front of the casino with staffed informational tables to introduce them to racing as well as answer questions. By reaching out one player at a time they are getting people interested in racing.
The success of this program does not surprise me. There have been times when I was at Yonkers and I have seen slot players coming and going stop and watch the horses while they were warming up or racing. People are curious, you just need to reach out to them.
Make no mistake, the program can be improved. These tables should be offered more often than on selected days and management can offer an occasional day time card so day time slot players can be exposed to harness racing.
Horsemen and racino operators elsewhere would be wise to pay attention to what is happening at Yonkers. Despite what some say, if you reach out to slot players, some will give racing a chance.