During a recent conversation with a handicapping pal, I found out he was not very happy with racing. Now, before you jump to any conclusions, he is the kind of player you would love to sit next to while gambling, or locking horns in a handicapping contest. It is rare to hear legit concerns from people who love the game. I started thinking it should be easier to have your voice heard. How about a forum where fans could write in and ask questions? I know it has the sound of Dear Abigail, but it may be an interesting forum where the powers that be have to respond back to your questions without knowing who is speaking.
Now, as we get started, the Q&A area would be located on every race track website. There can be no profanity, nor the mention of specific people. It is all about issues and concerns, and not bringing anyone to justice. The scroll would show questions like a Twitter feed. Others can chime in, and anyone can read what is going on. It has to be answered in a timely manner, and cannot pass the buck. All questions and issues must be addressed. That’s only if you’re interested in fixing what’s broke, and getting to know your players.
I love to play in handicapping contests. But after doing the math for the NHC contest format, there is money missing from the end prize payout. We pay our dues, go to contests, and support racing. Why are we being short changed when it comes to the payout?
There are many costs you don’t see. You know, like salaries and bonus payouts to executives. I know you’re right about the prize structure being a little low, but what are we going to do? I know, let’s ask for a complete report of member dues, entry fees, and prize payouts. It shouldn’t be hard from there, but I really doubt if your going to get an answer. (This question comes from a player who has qualified multiple times for the NHC and B.C. Contest).
For years I have worked in the racing industry. I love my job, and want to support the game. Are VLT’s and slot machines our only hope?
One Arm Bandit
Mom use to say the truth can sometimes hurt. Mega-casino companies are buying tracks, and waiting for the opportunity to unleash alternative gaming. The racing product is an after-thought at best. Remember how we hoped and wished? We marched at the state house and petitioned signatures. We rallied and cheered, and waited for our savior to arrive. Well, it has arrived and it’s nothing like the brochure. I have watched tracks clean house of long time employees; go to skeleton racing crews, and pay smaller wagers to a quick turnover staff. They don’t care if the ponies are running. They don’t care how long you worked there, or the beautiful track history. – Racing is on it’s own, and you have some tracks that are handcuffed by new owners. Long story short. There will be half as many tracks in five to ten years, and more people will be betting from home, the office, or by phone. Those days of long lines and big crowds are done. If anyone tells you differently, I can pass you to at least ten good folks who have met the new boss. Like the old saying goes: “Sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.” ( This question was posed by a an employee who has worked in racing for over 30-years).
These are real questions. They come from people who love the sport, and enjoy being a part of the racing community. A handful of big tracks will survive, and the smaller tracks will be pushed out. There will be no room at the table for the small time horseman, and cheap claimers will soon be a chapter in the book of Racino-World. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but if you thought there was a knight in shining armor ready to fund and carry racing. You may have missed by a mile. We are walking in the desert and dying of thirst. That lush oasis we see just over the hill is a casino that will offer us all the free sand we can drink.