Lest we think America is the only place harness racing is having problems, news comes to us that Finland finds most of its harness tracks cutting purses 10-15% due to a cut in subsidies from Fintoto, the company that handles ADW wagers in Finland. Due to the recession, the commissions being paid to the tracks is being cut effective June 1. Maybe harness racing is less popular? Not really, their cards equivalent to the V76 and V65 are well supported. It's just a case of a smaller pot of money to draw from.
What does this have to do with American tracks? The Finnish tracks admit if they kept a float fund available to help even out the ebbs and flows of wagering to keep purse levels steadier. Instead, what comes in goes out and results in purse cuts. Gambling is a discretionary activity and for the sport not to set aside money for the leaner days is irresponsible. In addition, Fintoto admits they need to develop the wagering product more; the same old wagers don't cut it anymore. Like any other business, one needs to keep their product line fresh and offering the same old wagers doesn't cut it.
This is why racing needs to offer exchange wagering to freshen up the product line. In addition, show wagering has outlived its usefulness. Instead of offering show wagering, racing should offer the European version of place wagering where it pays for horses that finish first through third as long as eight horses were in the race with less than eight horses paying dividends to those who finish first through second.
Also, racing needs to change. While the mile has been the standard distance for the vast majority of racing, we need to vary our distances to put a little more challenge in the game. Even the greyhounds race different distances to change the equation. Distance racing visually changes the product for the gambler but also tends to increase the uncertainty of a specified finish, resulting in greater pay offs. The last thing the customer wants is the same old same old.