I must admit, what is going on in Ontario's got me wondering what the motive is to end the Tracks at Slots program. Now, before I go on any further, remember I am a Yankee, so the background of this situation I don't know. Maybe it is just that the Liberals have decided racing has had enough of a chance to get the industry back on track and they decided to pull the plug on the program the same way it was done in Quebec; except in Quebec they at least offered breeders a subsidy for a couple of years in order to help them transition into other agricultural endeavors. Maybe they are looking for a better net share of the profits as they expand their offerings. While the OLG currently grosses 75%, remember they are paying the employees and offering benefits. Under the current plans, the new operators of casinos will be responsible for paying employees so even if they only get 70% of the take, the OLG may come out ahead.
Of course, a valid question to be asked is if it takes two to three years to get new casinos built, what is Ontario going to do revenue-wise in the interim, the period where the Tracks at Slots program is dead and these casinos open? There is a good chance that after pulling the machines at the few tracks, that the OLG will negotiate interim deals with the remaining tracks to make up the difference, and yes, some of these racinos may remain and even get table games to make up the loss of income.
But what about those in the racing business; the 65,000 people the industry claim make their living on horse racing? We can argue about the number of people who are employed directly or indirectly in the racing industry, but let's be honest, horse racing is not going to be wiped off the landscape in Ontario. The number of people who are going to lose their jobs may be half or less. Ontario is not Quebec; some tracks will remain and they will need horsemen and the associated industries. Other horsemen will be heading to the United States to work.
The industry claims the Liberals' plans are illogical. There, they are wrong. Racing may feel things are illogical because they are being impacted. However, government doesn't do things willy nilly; they know what they are doing and to them it is certainly not illogical. Unfortunately, you may never hear from the Liberals what their intentions are based on and that is not fair. If you are going to impact so many people's livelihoods, they have an obligation to be upfront and honest.
Pull the Pocket has a piece today where he talks about the New York Franchise Board not being impressed with the 'rejuvination' of racing at the NYRA tracks. Why? They want to know where the customers are. Basically, they see horsemen getting rich but no real attempt to get new people involved in the sport, with respect to gambling. Basically, we are seeing the Daffy Duck syndrome. What is that? Think of the cartoon episode where Daffy Duck (Racing) discovers a giant bucket of gold and jewels and starts screaming "It's Mine You Understand, Mine, All Mine" while Bugs Bunny (the gambler) just stands there watching. Perhaps if Ontario horsemen and tracks invested some of their pot of gold in the form of reducing takeout and improving the gaming experience, horsemen in Ontario wouldn't be where they are now..
HANA Harness has a new press release today in anticipation of their handicapping challenge which kicks off next week. In this press release, Pen and Chip handicappers discuss what they feel is the most important and most overrated handicapping angles.
Permit me to get way off topic here. If you have teenagers attending proms this year, or they have friends with driving licenses, you may want to have them look at the following video. I know you think your children would never drink under age, but just remember what you were doing when you were their age. I know what I did.