Time Is Running Out

by Ed Meyer

posted on June 23, 2010 in General Discussion | 2 Comments >>

I have had it up to here… Right now, I am signaling a hand gesture to my throat. That will be the exact place that most tracks will get the chop if no help comes soon….

We have tried… The small contest crapola… I have to say that personally I had a small contest that was for on-track players for a small $20. It had a sponsorship from an online wagering outlet. It involved five races on the home track card. It carried a minimum payout of $1,000, and could go higher.  It was publicized, and promoted. It was even taken person to person by an intern force drumming up business. It flopped… It was good, and it even received good reviews. But, players have become complacent. If it is not the NTRA contest, they won’t even look… Even that contest has had major withdrawals from tracks putting on the show. So, what to do?

Let’s put away our family day, and pony rides and get down to business. If racing is to survive as a whole, the pie has to be distributed. For the “haves” in racing that have VLT’s and Racino’s, let’s earmark 5% that will go into a general fund. All tracks and outlets that have this gaming pay…. Oh, this is after taxes, marketing, etc… Let’s spread the wealth. My great-great-grandmother lived to be 103 years-old. She had a saying: “If we don’t hang together, we will all hang separately.”  Now, I don’t know if she penned the words… But, they do make sense… We need to pull together. If a track dies off and shuts the doors, the upside for your track will be short-term. Where do you think people will get their bet on? Do you think they will just fly away? Think again…..Here is an idea, and like many, it may be wrong. We can watch things happen, wonder what happened, or make things happen.

Take the 5% from each track, and put it into a general pool. Once all monies are collected, they are distributed evenly to tracks that must run a minimum number of dates for the past amount of years. I know, this sounds weird.. Long story short. This will keep new tracks from popping up to get a piece of the pie, and this will keep tracks from running 10 days and getting a slice of the goods. All tracks must disclose all records and show profit / loss statements. This will make the divide fair. You will apply with a proven record history, and that you are a regular part of the racing circuit. This will apply to Thoroughbred tracks only. For the tracks that are doing well, or the boutique tracks that hold their own, I am sorry.  This is a program that is suppose to stimulate the industry parts that needs it the most.

People want to wager on larger fields that offer value. Have you ever tried to walk-up to a craps table and figure it out in five minutes? How about playing blackjack with a shuffle-master? Roulette? The answer is no.. Racing will draw more when less becomes more, and there is a sharing of the profits. This will show the public we are here to stay. They don’t care about cheap beer that much. It does help concession coffers, but we make our money on the 17% takeout of a wager. If you see tracks drying up, it will benefit nobody. The gain will be short-term, and you will eventually see the same fate. We must stick together. We don’t need over inflated prices to belong to a membership club, or do this state by state… We need a national “big brother” to oversee the redistribution. The players will figure it out, and it will be easy to market and promote when the product is better. They want value, and they want it now….

If you have a better idea, then please bring it to the table. It is not a contest to hold out the longest.. When you read papers talking about “Dark Days in Kentucky.” Where do you think this virus will go next?  Kentucky was on top when your signal was not being watched. This is a wake-up call. The ref has given a standing 8-count, the two-minute warning has sounded, and the crowd is beginning to leave. We better fix this, or the game will die. Oh, it won’t die all at once, but it will go piece by piece. No track or state will be exempt from the virus.  So, is it possible to hang together? I think racing needs to look at: the NFL, NASCAR, the NBA, and many other models where all of the sport is moving as one piece.