Yesterday, the PHRC conditionally suspended the 2014 race dates for Harrah's Philadelphia over its failure to respond to inquiries by the commission over their track condition. Specifically, the state racing commission said:
And now, this 23rd day of January, 2014, after having requested specific information from Harrah's Philadelphia ("Harrah's") regarding its proposed plan to address race track surface issues on numerous occasions and having received no substantive information or documentation from Harrah's, the Commission suspends Harrah's 2014 race dates which this Commission previously approved on December 19, 2013.
I don't pretend to know when Harrah's first got inquiries from the racing commission regarding their track conditions nor will I speculate. However. it is clear Harrah's has been thumbing their nose at the PHRC because the last thing they want to be doing is having racing.. It goes past not responding to requests about improving the track surface, it includes refusing to open the clubhouse and dining room for Super Sunday which resulted in it being cancelled for 2014.
Harrah's was granted a slot license because they agreed to operate a racetrack and as such, operate a racetrack they should; properly. To this person, it seems Harrah's needs to be taught a lesson that they need to treat their obligation to run a SAFE racing program seriously, at least until they manage to get the law changed allowing them to discontinue racing (you know they will be trying). Ideally, the PHRC would revoke their racing license which would in turn put their gaming license at jeopardy, but let's face it, they won't because the state wants the gaming revenue. Therefore, the PHRC should not merely temporarily revoke the race dates, they should hit Harrah's with a hefty fine; just as the casino company got hit with when they violated the rules of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Maybe then, Harrah's will treat their obligations seriously.
I guess it is a case of you need to hit rock bottom before you decide to help yourself, but legislation has been signed into law in New Jersey which allows the thoroughbred and standardbred horsemen to contribute part of their purse account into a fund to be used for marketing racing to the general public. The bill gives racetracks and both horsemen groups equal say on how such a program is to be run.
Remember when the Ontario horsemen were asked to contribute into a fund to market racing? The horsemen refused. One has to wonder if they had enough foresight, if the problems in Ontario could have been avoided or mitigated.
Jason Settlemoir, General Manager and President of Meadowlands Racing and Gaming has an interview in HANA's February Newletter starting on page 11..