It is a matter of time until racing comes out against Governor Christie's transition team proposal regarding racing having to survive on its own; racing fewer days and without any subsidy. No doubt if this proposal were to be implemented, it would send shockwaves through racing and not just the standardbred industry. While some states have refused to permit slot machines at race tracks, New Jersey would be the first state to cut racing off completely from any form of subsidy (purse supplement or VLT revenue). The theoretical of what would happen to racing without assistance may about to become reality. Update: Actually Michigan had a supplement from casino licensing but that was negotiated away with the horsemen and race tracks' consent.
Those who have been delusional in thinking VLT revenue will keep on flowing forever have been put on notice; the day of reckoning is approaching. In Pennsylvania, the legislature continues to nibble away at the horsemen's share of VLT revenue; some states with racinos are allowing or considering stand alone casinos to open, taking away revenue from horsemen. Additional states allowing gaming means the revenue will be divided into more slices, reducing not only the horsemen’s share but the states’ share also which will put pressure on their budgets. As states continue to search for money to fund their spending they are going to question why money which can be used for education and other programs is being spent subsidizing an industry where as little as 5% of the purses are funded by wagering.
Those who think government will continue to support the industry forever have been proven wrong. It is time for hard decisions to be made to make racing self sufficient. Despite what the doomsayers say, racing will survive and be self sufficient. All it takes is a willingness to make hard choices. It is time for those unwilling to make the tough decisions to be pushed aside.
Dean over at Pull the Pocket has a guest handicapping Saturday night’s O’Brien Awards being presented on Saturday night. Since these awards are based on racing performances north of the border, it may be interesting to get a Canadian perspective of the year 2009.