Fate of Illinois Determined Today: The Illinois Legislature meets today for the State of the Union Address. If the legislature doesn't approve the ADW bill today, ADW wagering expires at the end of the week and thoroughbred and standardbred racing get their racing dates shaved big time (especially the trotters). The Governor has already said he will sign the legislation, the two houses supposedly agree with the legislation; it is just a case of getting the legislators to take action today. A no brainer right? Well neither house has an ADW bill on the agenda for action today; it would need to be added at the last minute. UPDATE: ADW bill passes State Senate. The House will need to take up the legislation after Governor's SOTS Address.
In Australia, the running tracks have begun a campaign called Relaxed Racing, a program which emphasizes thoroughbred racing as a summer time event where friends and families can get together for an enjoyable day of racing and other events. Could something like this work in the States?
One thing which makes it easier for this program in Australia is the fact their race meets are primarily festival meets to start with which makes it easier as they don't have five days a week racing for months on which helps make racing a special event in itself. That being said, with many thoroughbred tracks set in a 'park' format with lawn areas, it is possible to do something like relaxed racing than it is at standardbred tracks which tend to lack green spaces. Let's face it, it is kind of hard to expect people to set up picnic spaces on concrete or asphalt.
Still, this does not mean a similar program couldn't be created at American trotting tracks. While we tend to have longer race meets, there is nothing to keep racetracks from having their own festivals, perhaps tied around their bigger events. Events can be scheduled for before and after the races with perhaps an accelerated racing program to keep people around for all the activities of the day. Ideally, tie-in the festival with a local non-profit (such as a hospital) to build good will within the community.
Tracks can't afford to do this all the time during their year because odds are you will not be drawing high value gamblers to these events but you need to expose people to racing. If you want to attract new gamblers, you need to have some type of outreach. But in states like New Jersey where people tend to hit the shore on weekends, you need to market racing as a viable entertainment alternative.
Tracks can cede the summer months to other activities or it can make a play for the entertainment dollar during the period. The choice is theirs.
Meanwhile in Australia, an owner has made an investment in the industry by offering to buy ten junior drivers a $15,000 horse no strings attached; the horses will become their own.
Sick People Out There - Wyoming Legislator Sue Wallis, one of the leading proponents of horse slaughter was found dead Tuesday morning from unknown causes. Some people are actually happy at her passing; how sick. While I and others certainly disagree with her stance on horse slaughter, she is a human being with a family and will be missed. In the case of horse slaughter, one wants to win the battle by changing hearts, not gloating over someone's death. I suspect many people don't know as a legislator she has supported many progressive causes, meaning in all likelihood if not for the horse slaughter issue, she would be a representative they would want representing them in the legislature. Allow me to extend my condolences to her family on Wallis' passing.