Things That Make You Go Hmmmm (10)

In reporting record fourth-quarter revenue in 2011, Churchill Downs Inc. noted live horse racing and full-card simulcasts continue to lose money, while the gaming and online wagering sectors are profitable. … Not mentioned is the fact the company’s online wagering operation currently is based solely on the horse racing product, and that two of its slots casinos are in existence because they are located at racetracks. … Can’t argue with the facts, but let’s acknowledge the critical link here.

The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority in its lease deal for Monmouth Park is providing a $4 million “grant” to assist the New Jersey THA in 2012. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you can’t help but remember the governor said there would be an end to all “subsidies” for racing. … So why didn’t privately owned Atlantic City Race Course and Freehold Raceway receive grants, justified or not?

During testimony before a Kentucky Senate committee on a constitutional amendment on casino gambling, the anti-gambling Family Foundation of Kentucky argued Kentucky isn’t a referendum state. A few weeks later the public policy group pushed a constitutional amendment through another Senate committee on protecting religious freedom, which is already protected in the state and United States constitutions. … So what it is, guys? A referendum state or not a referendum state? … By the way, this flip-flop received no media coverage.

Still can’t figure out the ultimate strategy of the Ontario provincial government and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. in setting a March 2013 deadline for the OLG to be out of the racetrack gaming business, but word that three tracks, including Fort Erie, already have been targeted is disturbing. … Ontario is one jurisdiction in which I didn’t expect this to happen, but if the plan isn’t blocked, it could be the first. … Wakeup call folks.

Jeff Gural, who is leasing Meadowlands from the State of New Jersey and operates two upstate New York racetrack casinos, seems to be picking up support for a proposal that would dedicate a small percentage of purse revenue from gaming to equine drug-testing and the marketing of harness racing. I hope he’s not a voice in the wilderness on this one, but getting horsemen to part with even a small share of their purse supplements won’t be easy.

The first video in a series launched by The Jockey Club and NTRA Communications—we’ll call it “Hoof Locker”—is bizarre. I like it. … Lost in the good-bad discussion is an important fact for an industry that consistently fails to follow through on plans: The Jockey Club already has put into action many recommendations from the 2011 McKinsey and Company report—and in less than eight months.

And a few leftovers from the National HBPA winter convention:

An interesting discussion revealed this alleged but believable statistic: Roughly 120 gamblers account for $2 billion in pari-mutuel handle on Thoroughbred racing each year, or almost 20% … Glad these folks continue to send it in, but one can only hope the industry is scared to death of this statistic.

More and more ADW companies are touting good rebates for big bettors, which is fine. But if this industry is so concerned about where revenue goes through such systems, wondering why no ADW companies advertise or publicize revenue percentages to attract bettors who do care about where the revenue goes.

Sam Gordon, former longtime president of the Florida HBPA and now a consultant for The Stronach Group, received an achievement award from the National HBPA. Gordon has been recognized a tough negotiator but one with a sense of humor. … “I’m still accused of horsemen being my first love even though I work for racetracks and get a check from them,” he said of his role as a consultant. And of how consultants operate, he said: “Gray hair makes you look distinguished. Hemorrhoids make you look concerned.”

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