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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Congratulations Italy, You Are in the Same Mess We Are In

I don't know if congratulations is the right word.  What we have is another country's horse racing industry racing itself to the edge of the cliff when all of a sudden they realized they had a problem and wondered "How do we turn around from here?".

You can guess the answer; slot machines!  Two MPs (Members of Parliament) are proposing the use of slot revenue to revive the sport which has been shut down this year so far due to the perilous financial constraints they are in.  There will be no racing in Italy until financing for purses (slots) has been secured.  Remember, Italy is a Euro country and they are having their own problems so giving horse racing slot revenue is far from a slam dunk.

Of course North American Harness racing has been living on the edge of the cliff since it got slot machines as racetracks and horsemen have done virtually nothing to get racing turned around and walking away from the cliff edge.  Pull the slot revenue and racing goes over the cliff.  There is a glimmer of hope in the United States (and North America) as a trio of tracks, two of them 'B' tracks (Meadowlands, Tioga and Vernon Downs) are actually trying to reinvent the racing model and drag the rest of the industry along with it to change the game to give it life.

Welcome Italy to our world.  Hopefully you get your slot revenue and make the changes needed to walk away from the cliff before you get pushed over.  Somehow, assuming they get their temporary support from slots, I have a feeling they will be further away from the edge of the cliff than we will be five years from now, because right now North America racing is a lot closer to falling off the cliff than we realize.

Hopefully we don't meet at the bottom of the cliff.


Anonymous said...

I applaud your enthusiasm in regards to Tioga and Vernon trying something. I just don't understand where you see any level of accomplishment at either location.
Have you seen anything published from Tioga about 2011 handle figures?

Pacingguy said...

No I have not, but it is no secret, cracking the Tioga market is tough. Before Tioga Downs opened (maybe five years ago?), there was no racing in the area for quite a while since the track hosted quarterhorse racing before falling into bankruptcy and disrepair.

The problem is getting the off-track market to support their racing product. Personally, I see a way to tie their three tracks into a single brand to encourage more wagering on Tioga, the question is how to do it.