A Penny for your Thoughts

by Ed Meyer

posted on January 15, 2014 in General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

Whenever I read anything about racing, there’s always a hidden surprise. It’s not that gooey goodness in a candy bar, or the sugar sweet icing on your favorite cake. Racing is the little kid who was sent to stand in the corner while the rest of the class went on without you. May I ask one simple question to the gamblers around the world? Why would anyone that likes to make a wager not care if the most exciting form of gambling is dropping off the radar screen?

When I worked at Turfway Park, management was always talking about alternative gaming; VLT’s, slot machines, and Instant Racing. There was always a plan, and we did everything under the sun to get the word out. Employees gathered at the capitol, collected signatures, and gave the best customer service that was available. But, it was like getting beat by that last-second buzzer beater every single time. “We always picked ourselves up and dusted off our bottoms. Never to waver, and always coming back with a plan to survive.” If racing was a boxer, it would be Randall “Tex” Cobb, Rocky Marciano, Jake LaMotta, Carmen Basillio, Marvin Hagler, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, and Sugar Ray Leonard just to name a few.

I was reading North Jersey.com, and John Brennan had the unfortunate job of bringing horse racing another “standing eight count” in New Jersey. Here is an excerpt from his article:

The New Jersey Racing Commission’s agenda for tomorrow afternoon’s meeting has a sobering item for horsemen:

“Notice from Caesars Entertainment’s Atlantic City properties (Bally’s, Caesars, Harrah’s Resort and Showboat) to cease all simulcast operations at midnight December 31, 2013.”

That leaves only Borgata among Atlantic City casinos still offer horse racing simulcasting in that city.

If you look back, racing has always evolved as a survivor. When given the opportunity it expanded full-card simulcasting, exotic wagers with huge payouts, and the ability to reward gamblers for keeping the dream alive. But somewhere along the road many decided the beauty and pageantry wasn’t enough to hold their attention. The cerebral wagering that took place at the track has been replaced by mindless slot machines and rapid fire games. Many have decided to give up on going to the races with friends and family, and replace it with lightning quick “gaming” that can eat your house payment in the same time it took to watch the 5th race…

Why do they call it gaming instead of gambling?? “Gaming” is a sanitized word to create the illusion that casino gambling is like a video game your kids play. “You know, just having fun and playing games.” – Racing has stood proud with the melting pot of gamblers, and always embraced the idea that making a wager was not a thing to be embarrassed. Casino owners must have felt there was something unclean about this entertainment and renamed the activity. Horse racing has been around since prehistoric tribesmen of Central Asia domesticated the horse around 4500 B.C. How long have people been playing the Betty Boop penny-slot??

I’m not going to stand here looking down my nose.. Some of the best in the business are writing about those who “Live IT, Love IT, Play IT, Share IT” in America’s Best Racing. There are heart-pounding television series such as “Horseplayers” which will showcase the colorful characters and fast paced action following eight diverse gamblers. The 10-week series breaks from the gate on 1/21/14 on the Esquire Network.  But if we don’t work together, we will all fall separately. Casinos are popping up and taking over existing tracks and re-branding them. With the exception of a handful of Racinos, most put out a poor racing product that becomes the ugly step child to the glitzy gaming environment.

Racing has stepped up and recognized the stars of the show with Thoroughbred Aftercare programs. They take in retired racehorses and care for them, have adoption programs, and offer many options for the equine athlete. There is a fresh new approach to fan education with mobile marketing tours such as “America’s Best Racing” brand ambassadors. Racing has always evolved. We watch as our boxer stumbles drunk in the ring, and there will be no cooperative efforts by our legislative groups. Racing was the first type of gambling in the country in many areas, and maybe all states that are bought by casino-based companies, or change the original track. Should pony up with a hefty percentage of the take. It can redistributed the wealth to keep the sport alive and well. Don’t think of it as unfair. What happens to land-based casinos when the country accepts the Internet gaming idea and allows legal, regulated, and heavily taxed casino gambling on-line. Players will not have to get dressed up and fly to Vegas. They can sit in their basement and play Texas Hold Em’ with the best in the world. I wonder how these gaming giants will handle the news. Oh, I’m sure they’ll find something else and everything will be fine. Isn’t’ that what they have been telling us for years?