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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dealing with the Devil

This is the state of harness racing; make a deal with the devil (slots) to survive and at the same time sign up for even greater irrelevance and if current trends continue, likely die in the long run (at least as a gambling sport).

So finds Scarborough Downs which finds itself at the mercy of LD 1111, which would allow the establishment of slot machines at harness tracks based solely on a local vote instead of a state-wide referendum.  If LD 1111 fails to pass or the people of Scarborough vote down slots, you can 'put a fork in' Scarborough Downs as it will likely close, joining other tracks which have been unable to survive due to the lack of alternative gaming.  Of course, the passage and approval of slot machines at Scarborough will likely result in minimizing the importance of racing as the importance of gamblers diminishes as handle will make up so little of the purse account.  Horsemen, and breeders will be happy but for how long?  For while decoupling is the hot word in Florida, it will be only a matter of time before decoupling becomes a buzz word through the rest of the nation, making racing stand on its own two feet; something it is woefully unprepared to do so as it is focused, no, obsessed with slots and only slots.  There realistically is no game plan in place to attract new gamblers.

Senator Dean Heller of Nevada is attempting to kill online gambling nationally, with the exception of poker, a game of skill.  No doubt this bill is being proposed to protect Las Vegas but if it were to pass, it could be the final nail in the coffin for Atlantic City' casinos.    Of course, there is no way to gauge at this time the support it would receive and it is possible as with sports wagering that existing online gaming may be grandfathered.

The situation at Monticello Raceway appears to have gotten worse as the track has allegedly informed horsemen stabled on the grounds that the main track will not be available for training on days there is no racing being conducted.  While such action is common at ship-in tracks, it is clearly retaliatory here.  The horsemen have asked the NYGC to get involved with regards to getting the track reopened.  Being the main issue of the dispute is the law limiting subsidies to 2013 levels, and will be an issue at other New York tracks as their contracts come up for renewal (Saratoga next?), I would hope the NYGC is providing a mediator to assist in negotiations.

Continuing with our coverage of the Inter-Dominion, here is a commercial which is running in Australaia.  No, it isn't a clever commercial like the ones for ATG, but it is nice to see a commercial which talks about the race without mention of a free giveaway.

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