An article by Mike Kelly is The Record, attempts to put another nail in the coffin of the Meadowlands. He visited the Meadowlands on Friday afternoon and saw a few hundred people on the track wagering on simulcasting. Hence, the article is titled 'Racetrack's Fading Away'.
The problem here is clearly Mr. Kelly does not understand the reality of racing in the 21st century. Yes, the older bettors; those uncomfortable with computers go to the track, bet some money and socialize. The number of older bettors at the track has grown smaller, so you need less tellers at the track to service them. He declares racing dead and doubts Jeff Gural can turn things around.
Clearly, Mr. Kelly is not aware of the new model of racing. Gamblers, don't go to the track. They are content to sit at home in front of the computer and wager their money. The gamblers have not disappeared, they have become invisible. The problem tracks have is they get a reduced share of each dollar wagered through an ADW than they do if wagered in person and the key is to raise more revenue from those wagers or to get people wagering more. As for Kelly's comment regarding a casino at the Meadowlands, his comment indicating "...it's still unclear if a casino would improve the Meadowlands' financial woes.", shows he has no understanding on how racinos work. Perhaps he should cross the river and stop at Yonkers.
Maybe it would help if the SBOANJ and the USTA would have seminars for newspapers discussing the new world of racing. Then, when their columnists and writers who occasionally cover racing write articles they will understand what is really going on and recognize the few people that come to the track is a small fraction of those actually betting on horses and in the case of the case of the Meadowlands, the biggest expense is the large cavernous building built for a different era in racing.
Clearly, Mr. Kelly doesn't understand what Jeff Gural would mean for the Meadowlands. The problem with the Meadowlands is it stopped becoming a destination or entertainment center. It became all about gambling. With all the people betting at home, the Meadowlands could not help but become an empty cavernous racetrack. What Jeff Gural intends is for the Meadowlands to become a destination point. Cheap entertainment for the family. Families coming to the track to spend the day or evening enjoying a fun night out. Minor league-type activities, getting involved with the local community through charity events. Hopefully these people on track will wager, but he still expects the majority of wagering to occur off track. Gural's goal is to make attending the races fun again; an affordable day out. No $150 to take a family of four to see a Yankee game. Come to the track for nothing, and maybe spend some of that money on reasonably priced food which will not have you reaching for your ATM card and maybe bet some of that $150 on horses instead while your children are having fun. This is a model that is working at Tioga Downs and is a model which can work at the Meadowlands.
It is too late now in the game to educate people like Mr. Kelly about what a takeover of the Meadowlands by Mr. Gural will mean, but once a lease is hopefully signed, it may be time to have a press day to explain to the media what racing is currently all about and what the plans for the Meadowlands are. Then, maybe they can start writing articles about the future of racing rather than the demise of the sport.
P.S. - One thing we did learn in Mr. Kelly's article is the tellers at the Meadowlands make approximately $24 an hour to take wagers.