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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Era of Opportunity Lost Coming to an End?

Apparently fiscal issues are impacting our neighbors to the North as Ontario is looking at the C$345 million subsidy to racing through the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation's (OLG) operation of slot machines at racetracks.  Like in the lower 48, the question is how long can subsidies go on?  According to MPP Dwight Duncan, the Ontario Finance Minister, in trying to eliminate the provinces deficit with regards to the OLG's program of having slots at the tracks:
“That kind of money would pay for over nine million hours of home care or insulin pumps and supplies for five years for almost 17,000 people,” Mr. Duncan said.

“We are reviewing every program, every asset and every function of government. We are considering if government should be in a specific line of business or service delivery.”

If you ask the Ottawa Citizen, they ask what's there to think about?

Of course, horsemen in Ontario are making the same arguments horsemen in the United States makes when threatened with subsidy cuts.  How do you decide which is more important, keeping the racing industry strong or providing home care and/or insulin pumps?  Most likely by looking at how the voters are going to respond to whichever decision is made.  If a MP or an American legislator is trying to weigh which way to go, odds are they are going to look at the grandstands of the racetracks and/or the profitability of racing for their answer.

If the slot subsidies are eliminated as being considered, the question will be asked "Since the first slot parlor in Ontario opened up at Windsor Raceway in 1989, what has Ontario racing done to improve or market racing to the general public? "

Sadly, if the Finance Minister's threat comes true, historians of racing will look at this twenty-three year period not as the Golden Era but the Era of Opportunity Lost.

What is the story about Hollywood Heyden?  Was he fired, did he retire or what?  According to the SBOANJ, he took a buyout from the NJSEA and was hired as a part-time television host.


bob said...

am i giving you to much credit?
a buyout IS getting fired

Pacingguy said...

While it could be someone being fired, it is not always the case.

True, it is often used as a tool to reduce the workforce but sometimes they offer it to a group of employees and if enough take the buyout, there will be no layoffs. In this case, it does not apply.

In addition, in the case of a acquisition or change of control, a person gets the opportunity to go with the new company or get laid off. Now, I am speaking in generalities as I am not privy to the specifics. In this case, where continuing employment was contingent on a pay cut a person may have decided not to take the new offer and be laid off. A person who had been in a company for a lengthy period of time may have had a large buy out available and decided to take the buy out to get the cash and possibly benefits and then work part time for the new company.

Being Hollywood Heyden is working at the New Meadowlands part time suggests he was not fired, but a deal was worked out; possibly to allow him to collect both the buyout and get part time employment; financially it may have worked out for him.

bob said...

I respectfully disagree with what his now working suggests.
While i enjoy reading your blog it seems that Mr. Gural can do no wrong.

Pacingguy said...

Trust me, if I think he made a bad move, you will here it from me. I like to think I can be objective.

The problem right now is he is starting to preach things I have been talking about for a while. Yes, his plan for penalizing the offspring of 4yo sires was prematurely released without the details, but the concept is right. If I don't like what the exceptions are you will hear from me on it.

Recently, I have been reporting on the troubles at Cal Expo, and I have made comments that have not pleased people on both sides of the issues there who I know.

I have been skwered by individuals in the industry through other means (Kind of wish they would do it here so everyone can see such comments). I got a lot of flack for The Red Mile columns and some relating to breeding and others.

Boy have I gotten flack on the Hollywood Heyden and Wendy Ross issue, but I write what I believe. People call for change in harness racing and they are all for it; until it chages something they like. If we want racing to survive, we are all going to have to make sacrifices, even the current bettors (though obviously, you want to minimize upsetting them as much as possible).

Bob, I would be curious to know what you think Gural has done wrong. Maybe I missed something and on second thought may change my opinion; it wouldn't be the first time I reconsidered my opinions after hearing from a reader. If I am wrong, I will and have admitted it.

Either way, I appreciate your commenting and challenging me. It keeps me honest and quite honestly, it makes writing the blog more enjoyable. Healthy debate is always good.

Anonymous said...


Your explanation of what's usually involved in buyouts is on target. I've also read plenty of speculation and criticism about the Heyden situation. The real solution here is for someone with access to Mr. Heyden to ask him for answers. As far as I can tell, no one writing about Heyden's disappearance and re-appearance has done that.

bob said...

After sending an email to the Big M about heyden, I was emailed an invitation to heydens facebook page. once there and after reading all the comments from co workers, trainers, owners and friends it seemed obvious that he did not leave by choice.
When he was rehired the congrats came from everywhere including some in the booth