Why does racing need to do without VLT revenue? The people from the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) inadvertently make the strongest argument for racing to be cut off from VLT revenue. In today's blog entry, HANA points out what has happened at a major fast food pizza chain. Faced with producing a product their own customers were trashing, did this pizza chain sit there and do nothing? No, what they did was totally revamp their product. They had to. There was no VLT revenue supporting them. If the customers rejected them, they were going out of business.
Racing refuses to make fundamental changes to meet their customers' needs. Why should they? Horsemen and owners racing at racinos are doing better than ever without any customers. With only 5% of the purse money coming from wagering, racing can and has pretty much dismissed the customer; the gambler is a nuisance to deal with. Until horsemen and owners are in a position of having to race for what their customers wagered, things will remain the same; high takeouts, long time between races, pools too small to wager into by the heavy hitters, odds changing a couple of times after the race starts, no fair start rule, and so on. This is not to say there is no one in racing who wants to see changes. Unfortunately, with no incentive to make changes, far too many people are saying "You're right" and promptly go back to business as usual. Until racing starts going hungry, things will not change. Once slot revenue is cut off, maybe those giving lip service will actually start working to please the customer. As much as standardbred racing will suffer greatly in the short run if New Jersey Governor Christie sticks to his guns regarding racing having to become self-sustaining, he may be doing racing a favor in the long run as racing finally will be forced to listen to their customers and make the changes needed to produce a product people actually want to consume. Like the pizza chain, there is a market for racing. The question is will racing listen to their customers?
Dean over at Pull the Pocket talks about having to combat PETA. Here is another situatuion where racing has been ignoring the customer. No, we don't need to appease PETA with their extreme views, but we must face the reality that the mainstream public will no longer tolerate business as usual when it comes to animal welfare. As Dean points out, we don't need to treat racehorses like the family dog, but just the same, we have an obligation to treat them properly. Check his entry out.