The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition is sending out a warning that horse racing in the Keystone State is being endangered as the result of slot revenues decreasing, primarily due to non-racino casinos opening up in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, the racing industry benefits only from slot play at racinos; gambling at stand alone casinos don't benefit horse racing.
The Coalition is sounding the alarm as the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund (PRHDF) took in $6.36 million less in the past six months. With the PRHDF being used to fund purses, sires stakes, and breeder awards, some belt tightening will be required and it can get worse unless there is an increase in wagering at the racinos. With Ohio legalizing slot machines and tracks being relocated closer to the Ohio/Pennsylvania border it is likely receipts will continue to decline.
Pardon me for not being sympathetic to the Coalition's concern. Yes, the Equine Coalition is undoubtedly raising the alarm not only to stop the state from continuing to raid the PRHDF for other programs, but it irks me that once again the racing industry seemingly is depending on the government to save them without doing anything to save themselves.
Where are the bold changes in Pennsylvania racing? True there has been marketing of the sport in an attempt to attract a younger demographic but how successful are these attempts going to be if you are selling the same old (expensive) product which the public has been rejecting? Have there been requests to the state to change rules to make racing more competitive against other forms of gaming? Attempts to introduce exchange wagering or new wager types? Other actions to change the product?
Have you read anything in the industry press about the bold initiatives Pennsylvania racing has taken to attract new gamblers, besides sponsoring PA Harness Week? I doubt it. All I see is a coalition of horse racing-related interests with their hands out looking for help. When I see real attempts made to compete in a competitive gaming market then I will be sympathetic. Until then, Sorry Charlie.