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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A "See!" Moment for Jay Bergman and Some Briefs

Remember when Michael Wilton invited New York Horsemen to join the New York Gaming Association?  Well, he has received his response by the formation by horsemen and agricultural interests of their own group, The New York Horse Racing and Agriculture Industry Alliance (NYHRAIA).  This group is a partnership of harness and thoroughbred horsemen as well as farming interests.

Obviously, they didn't read Jay Bergman's column yesterday.  Bergman must be crowing this morning  Nothing is more satisfying as writing something and then in the next day or two being able to say "See, this was exactly I was talking about!"  As I mentioned yesterday, while Bergman was talking about harness racing, it applies to thoroughbred racing too.

But as Bergman said, of course there is going to be an adversarial relationship between horsemen and track operators.  Heaven forbid horsemen and management work together.  That being said, the horsemen have decided to go it alone, so instead of working out a compromise with racino management (why call them track management), who without them horsemen would likely be driving by new shopping centers or other developments where harness and thoroughbred tracks once existed, any legislation regarding a constitutional amendment may be delayed.

There is nothing wrong with trying to protect your own interests.  Unfortunately, as Bergman indicated the horsemen are going to want their share of any table games revenue in addition to the VLTs; they don't realize it is a new world and for the most part, racing is an inconvience for the operators and an expensive one at that. 

Of course if New York horsemen looked outside their own borders, they would see table games would benefit them even if they don't get a cut.  In Pennsylvania, progressive horsemen let the casino operators split table game revenue with the state without the horsemen getting a cut.  Did Pennsylvania horsemen get shafted by that decision?  Quite the opposite as it has been proven that table games increase play of the VLTs.  As for the racinos, they are not going to want to share table game revenue with the horsemen as they are already making welfare payments to horsemen.  They have been carrying a moribound industry for quite a few years already. 

A sensible compromise would have been enabling legislation requiring the number of VLTs to remain the same as they were pre-table games (meaning more construction jobs to expand) or a guarantee from racinos to horsemen to guarantee for X number of years that horsemen would receive at least the same revenue as they did in the year before table games came in to the racinos, to ensure horsemen didn't lose what they had. If such a proposal was discussed and turned down by casino operators or horsemen, shame on them.  If it wasn't discussed, it should have.  By presenting a united front, an amendment would pass quicker; now things will gum up with adversarial positions. 

Unfortunately, it is not just New York horsemen who think they are in the drivers seat.  The question is which state will horsemen get a rude awakening first. 

Monmouth Park being fast tracked.  The state's attorney general ruled that new bidding on Monmouth need not take place; they can consider the bids from those who lost the original bidding.  That leaves the NJTHA and John Brunetti, owner of Hialeah in the game.  The suspicion is the NJTHA will get the nod and they hope by the end of next month to have the deal done.
For those who think Plainridge was a slam dunk for the slot parlor, it is not going to be that easy.  In fact, Plainridge may find themselves out in the cold.

Attracting women to harness racing.  At Tabcorp Menangle, they will be holding a ladies breakfast to attract women to racing.  In addition to inviting local businesswomen, women involved in harness racing will be attending.  This is an effort to get more women interested in harness racing.  What track in the United States or Canada is attempting to attract women?      

$50,000 Guaranteed Pool - Northfield Park has a guaranteed Pick 5 pool tonight.  Additional details may be located here.

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