Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

14 May 2009

Slot Machines Spreading Disease

When slots were introduced in Delaware during the 1990's they were thought to be the savior of Delaware racing. Now that all of the unintended consequences of that governmental action have been accounted for, the slots have matured into a disease sickening every track on the east coast from Boston to Richmond. The most critical patient is Maryland racing which has been infected from all sides as slot enhanced racing has leached horsemen, horses and handle from its borders into neighboring jurisdictions. Beyer penned a controversial article earlier this week suggesting that Laurel should be shuttered and Pimlico remade as a spring boutique meet. There is virtue in his logic.

The core issue here is too much racing and nil cooperation. Slots propping up an unappealing product is akin to having a braindead patient hooked up to a respirator. The patient is alive but it is no life and he is a burden to all those around him. The surplus of unappealing slot enhanced racing is becoming a burden to the family of racetracks on the east coast and has spread disease throughout all of them.

A circuit including the tracks within DE, MD and VA should be pursued. Overlap of endless, unappealing meets and short fields can and must be reduced. Each tracks strengths could be highlighted. A festival atmosphere will return, instead of a daily grind of endless racing. A spring Preakness at Pimlico which transitions into an early summer of turf racing at Colonial Downs culminating in the Virginia Derby. Then more Summer racing at Delaware featuring well regarded stakes races like the Delaware handicap. Then as the leaves begin to fall a migration back to Maryland for the fall championship races like the DC International, Laurel Futurity and finally the Maryland Million.

The surplus of racing must be addressed. Short fields are spreading like a crisis and have even moved into the midwest. This crisis could be used to spark positive and much needed action. A Mid-Atlantic cooperative of tracks in DE, MD, and VA should be pursued to align racing dates. Cooperation will leave each track collectively strengthened and the racing product improved. It is time for collective leadership beyond the self-interest of each individual track .


John said...

I think your sentiments are well received by all. While I am a fan of the gaming industry, I do not believe anyone should reasonably believe that the gaming industry will itself revive the racing industry. The gaming industry can prop up live racing for a period of time but it will not save the industry. The racing industry must realize that too much racing does not equate with success. Conventional wisdom must be revisited.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember 50 years ago betting(bookie)on a horse at Santa Anita on a Monday and that was the only track running.

HANA said...

Very nice Cap.

At HANA we are getting more and more emails, and more and more player comments about slots. It is clear to the horseplayer that something needs to be done to coordinate this massive influx of revenue, so that demand is addressed, and supply is addressed for the future of racing.

The business needs to come together, especially when writing new slots deals in new jurisdictions. I think virtually everyone in this business knows that we can not keep going the way we are, or we will see places like Kentucky fade away while racing at places with $40,000 per race handles take all the horses. Not to mention our horseplayers will continue to leave in droves. More slots are not the answer to our problems, unless any new slot deals are written with demand in mind, for the greater good of racing.

Nice piece,


Anonymous said...

The same can be said for the three Pennsylvania and two New Jersey tracks. Even with the enhanced purses there is still way too much racing for there to be any sesns of an "event".

Anonymous said...

Bravo!!! I've always opposed slots for this reason but was never able to express my reasons so eloquently.

We have the same siutation in Ohio. Too many races, not enough class, and facilities that are in desperate need of renovation. The worst is the Winter Meet at Beulah Park where "fans" can watch $3000 claimers struggle to stay alive on a track that is either swamp or frozen as hard as concrete. The track owner was quoted in BloodHorse as saying they have the worst horses in the country, but then he turns around and begs for slots....disgraceful.

It's time to pull the plug on these low end tracks and concentrate on having shorter meets at tracks that provide a good experience for fans, horseman and horses.

I was fortunate to be at Keeneland the last day of Spring meet, and although it was a Friday afternoon, the place was packed with people of all ages...proof positive that the fans will come for a quality experience!

Anonymous said...

quality experience=warm weather+open grandstand

Anonymous said...

Racing has too much racing. It must stop racing in harsh winter weather and in July and August in extreme heat and humidity in Louisiana and Florida. Usually during terrible weather only slow, mismanaged, spent and broken horses run. What is the point? Where is the HSUS to stop the abuse? Racing is sick and it deserves the reputation it has. I feel extremely sorry for the horses.

malcer said...

...slot racing has never been intended to help the sport, it has been intended to help current horsemen, state coffers and the casino industry...