Harness Racing Update reports that the first five days of racing at the Meadowlands has resulted in a huge 19.5% drop in handle when compared to the first five days of the 2010 meet. The publication attributes the decline due to the uncertainty regarding the future of the track and suspects gamblers have either switched to other harness tracks or thoroughbred racing.
I have a different take on the precipitous drop of the betting handle. The fall meet. This past fall meet was such a disaster quality-wise that many gamblers just gave up on the Meadowlands and moved on to other wagering opportunities. Sadly, most probably moved over to the runners. Being horseplayers are creatures of habit, it will take a long time before these gamblers 'rediscover' the Meadowlands and it probably requires an aggressive advertising campaign to get them back. Unfortunately, until the issue of the long-term future of the Meadowlands is resolved, the chances of any such advertising campaign is low on the 'to do' list.
Much ado has been made about a Press of Atlantic City report where there is speculation as to whether or not Governor Christie will veto the legislation that provides for a purse subsidy via an allocation formula to be determined by the New Jersey Racing Commission. The speculation has it that the Governor could veto the whole bill, conditionally veto the part about a purse subsidy, or let the bill go through as is and in effect veto the distributions when the NJRC makes the allocations. As Governor, Christie can veto the minutes of a NJRC meeting and kill of any purse allocations the commission can make. Why the industry is worrying about this now, I have no clue.
If Jeff Gural does not reach a lease agreement with the NJSEA (which gets reviewed by the Governor), whether or not there will be subsidy money is immaterial. Secondly, I don't know if the Governor would be that devious. After all, being the money comes from the casino industry and not the state, he an approve the subsidy saying it is not state funds and the fact that in three years there will no longer be any subsidies. The point is worrying about this now is so premature.