With news coming from the Our Turn New Jersey Campaign that they are ceasing all paid advertising in support of the New Jersey gaming expansion, defeat has been conceded by the pro-gaming supporters. As a result, there is little doubt the referendum to expand gaming will go down to defeat. If as promised by Jeff Gural, this means a 'nuclear winter' of sort is likely coming to East Rutherford, the cancellation of most stakes races as the pro-gaming forces wait the two years before another attempt to pass an expansion of gaming in New Jersey can take place.
Okay, nuclear winter may be a bit extreme. There are enough stakes races thanks to racino revenue for horsemen on a national level, so horsemen will be spared from an immediate impact of the Meadowlands jettisoning most stakes (The Hambletonian would appear to be safe) would appear to be minimal. However, the long term impact of this collapse of stakes racing is disconcerting.
Let's not kid ourselves, if stakes racing disappears from the Meadowlands, one must wonder what will happen to the overnight purses? Will the Meadowlands become Freehold North or remain at the level of this past year's racing? Without stakes and high-caliber racing, handle is likely to drop continuing pressure on purses, plus the absence of stakes racing will likely put harness racing out of the view of the New York and national media. After this year, it will be a long time, if ever that the Breeders Crown will return to the Meadowlands.
Other tracks will be hurt as it is likely much of the simulcast wagering on the Meadowlands will be lost to harness racing, moving over to other forms of horse racing where gamblers will find pools large enough to wager on. This means harness tracks which depend on their own customers to wager on the Meadowlands will find their revenue dropping. Racino tracks may be able to sustain such loses but those tracks without racinos will feel an immediate drop on their bottom line.
New Jersey racing, already on life support, faces a severe threat to its sustainability as what little hope breeders were using to promote their stallions in the state has all but vanished. Will the few stallions in state abandon the state further decimating the sires stakes program, leaving the NJ program surviving on state-bred horses?
No, nationally things won't collapse immediately, but if the cuts to the Meadowlands stakes schedule are as draconian as led to believe, the impact on harness racing will be reverberating underneath the surface, waiting to crack through.
Hmmm, maybe nuclear winter isn't that far off.
Atlantic City Can Drop Dead - Says Jeff Gural in an interview at the Little Brown Jug. He predicts the defeat of the referendum will hurt Atlantic City and the next time around, he doesn't see linking any future referendum to supporting Atlantic City casinos. Basically, Atlantic City made its bed and now it can sleep in it. I tend to agree with him; this legislation would have helped to stabilize Atlantic City somewhat whereas the cannibalism of the market with new casinos coming online in New York continuing to eat Atlantic City's lunch. It may be a race to the bottom between racing and Atlantic City.