For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Disappointing Numbers at Big M

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.


Murray said...

Don't forget there is no NYCOTB. That would account for a significant part of the loss.

Phil J. said...

I think you are right on in your assessment of the drop in handle. Between the lack of quality individual horses, lack of quality fields of horse, and the mass exodus of the driving colony, things got ugly. It would be compared to your favorite pizze joint all of the sudden selling terrible pizza. You would find another good place and may or may not give the old place a shot down the road.

Pandy has maintained that the driving colony during the fall meet made for better betting races and nice prices. I agree with him. But as I said on PaceAdvantage, for the serious handicapper who knows the ins and outs of the sport, the colony was fine. But I would say that for the casual fan, who may only follow M1, it was a turn off. They would much rather watch Sears, Tetrick and Brennan duke it out to the wire than Ginsburg, Berry and Mosher.

In my opinion, I think it hurt with regards to the big bettors also. If you had 5k on a horse who do you want driving? Sears or Mosher? Tetrick or Marohn Jr.? If I am betting that much I want a name driver that I have confidence in, otherwise I will look elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

harness racing is getting what it deserves. all the years of trainers "dropping lines" and drivers getting "railed", etc., etc., has worn out the gamblers.
the whales abondoned ship years ago and now all that is left are the little fish, the same fishies that play the lotteries.
ontario will lose most of its lottery subsidies next year.(the province has a deficit of 20 BILLION $, THAT'S RIGHT, 20 BILLION! and it will be r.i.p woodbine, mohawk, big m. you cheaters all brought it upon yourselves!

Sunny Jim said...

Price changes also on the programs - the simulcast program went from three bucks to four, and the live program doubled in price to two dollars. They didn't even try to roll them into one, or do anything else except gouge those remaining diehards who still show up. With the dollar admission, will people think twice now before shelling out seven bucks to go to the track to watch an increasingly inferior product? Damn right they will.