Slot Machine Revenue in Pennsylvania Up Nearly 6% in December

slot machineHARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 5, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s monthly slot machine revenue report for December of 2014 shows an increase of 5.82% in gross revenue generated over December of 2013.
The report has been posted on the Board’s web site, www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov. According to the report, the play of slot machines at the… [Read more…]

As It Relates to Horse Racing

Undesirable government and politicians not limited to America

By ART PARKER

Being a newspaper editor in Alabama provides me with terrific opportunities to see the crookedness and stupidity of politicians and the incompetent practices of government. One of our former Governors shut down a racing facility that had charity electronic bingo, at the point of a gun, after he took campaign money from an Indian Tribe outside our state, an obvious competitor to the Alabama-based business he shut down. The bottom line is that we saw a facility shut down and hundreds of people in one of our poorest counties out of work. Furthermore, it eliminated a tourism draw that brought thousands in from Georgia every year.

That’s the way we do it down here. The tools are dishonesty, stupidity, greed and an inexplicable desire to make many lives miserable by forcing them into unemployment, usually for political reasons.

It looks like some of those tools have migrated north of the border to Canada, specifically the province of Ontario.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me say that my favorite race track is Woodbine, the gem of thoroughbred racing in Canada. No, I’ve never been there. But like many Americans who play the races via Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) I have the opportunity to play Woodbine frequently, and I love the track.

This year the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) announced the termination of the contract it has with Ontario race tracks for the tracks to house slot machine facilities. The OLG, which is actually an arm of the provincial government of Ontario, wants to dump the tracks and build its own facilities, but most importantly take money away from the tracks. This is after the tracks changed their lives years ago to accommodate the slot machine business and since then have pretty much done all the work and paid to maintain it. This past week the OLG went to Ft. Erie race track and padlocked the machines. This is while the track is still operational. Why? Ft. Erie still has plenty of racing this season and to padlock the machines is like saying you do not want money the machines can generate. Stupid. Of course, Ft. Erie has already announced it will go ahead and close after 115 years of business due to the move of the OLG. More jobs, community pride, history and all other good things down the drain.

This past week Woodbine held one of the oldest and most prestigious races in North America, The Queen’s Plate. For those of you not familiar with it, the race is kind of like our Kentucky Derby.  It’s a fantastic race with a great history. Woodbine announced just a few days before the race that his may be the last Queen’s Plate because of the actions of the OLG. Woodbine leadership also stated clearly that day to day racing could be in danger, and not just the stakes program, because of the OLG.

Since the OLG is actually the governments gaming agency the race tracks are at a double disadvantage. Woodbine’s CEO said it best, “How are we expected to compete when the referee is also our opponent?”

Don’t forget the extensive damage that will be done to the Canadian thoroughbred breeding business after OLG finishes execution of its mandate.

I look at my home state (and others) and I look at what has happened in Ontario and I see the same problems; the ruination of people, businesses and our economy. Just look at the government and the politicians and you see the problem. I’m sure the culprits are dishonesty, stupidity, greed, and yes, somewhere someone wants to hurt someone else.

Too bad this has to happen to racing in a great racing location like Ontario. The only advice I can give to the people of Ontario is to prepare for the next election and run these officials out of Canada. Just don’t send them down here. We already have enough just like them.

Handicapper Art Parker — Art Parker is a frequent contributer to A Game of Skill.com

 

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RELATED POSTS AND INFORMATION ABOUT THE CANADIAN DEBACLE

From earlier this year (February 2012)

HANA made this statement in their [February] newsletter:

Officials in Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario (Canada) have been making noise lately about cutting off slots subsidies to racetracks.  Anyone who has spent any time at racinos knows that in just about all of them, the racing is an afterthought to the big money that is to be made from slots.  And, more and more, it appears the companies that own the racinos are keeping racing alive only because they are mandated to by the state.  If subsidies are cut or eliminated–as seems likely in the near future–expect to see date cuts for the races, and possibly the disappearance of some tracks.  — HANA

http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3474543

“Over the past few decades, an explosion in gambling opportunities and increased competition for leisure dollars have reduced horse racing to a small, cult sport. It would have already faded into oblivion in many small centres, including Fort Erie, if the province had not introduced slot machines at racetracks. A significant percentage of the money that sad sacks chronically lose at the slots goes to subsidize the host track.

Neither the province nor the Drummond report has any problem with sad sacks continuing to lose their shirts by mindlessly depositing tokens in machines. Indeed, the report recommends creating more opportunities for people to gamble away their earnings.

However, the Drummond team does suggest there might be more deserving recipients of the province’s slice of this pie than just the horse racing industry.”

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/adam-radwanski/liberals-talk-racetrack-closures-to-pull-on-the-reins/article2337233/

Latest Update: Woodbine States that their Future is in Doubt

http://www.drf.com/news/woodbine-ceo-says-track-may-close-if-slots-revenue-taken-away

Internet Gambling – How Far Away is it?

Internet GamblingAs one of the world’s largest suppliers of slot machines and systems that operate casinos, Bally Technologies, Inc. and many other similar companies are preparing for what many say will be gambling’s next frontier: the Internet. If e-gaming does becomes legal in the United States it will unfurl a whole new market and have serious consequences.

“Legalizing Internet gambling would allow government to open a casino in every home, dorm room, and office in America, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Les Bernal, executive director of Stop Predatory Gambling, a nonprofit group based in Washington that works with local, state, and federal groups to oppose casinos and state lotteries. E-gaming “represents one of the purest forms of predatory gambling.”

I couldn’t agree more. Gambling is absolutely out of control in this country, and it is because of the proliferation of casino and lottery legislation in numerous states. Mindless games of chances. The one-arm bandit. Check your brain at the door.

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A Simple Way to Get New Fans

The following piece appeared in the Oct. 8, 2011 edition of Thoroughbred Times and has been reprinted with their permission.


Racing needs to pay attention to P. T. Barnum

by MARK SIMON

Mark Simon, editor of the Thoroughbred Times

Mark Simon, editor of the Thoroughbred Times

SOME racing executives or track owners believe the sport has to compete with lotteries. So they come up with bets that are difficult to win and are likely to produce a large payoff. That, they think, will draw attention to the sport, and result in more people coming to the track. It has not worked out that way. If racing wants to attract new fans, it is time to go back to the basics and keep things simple.

Bets such as the super high five, superfecta, and pick six can produce large payoffs, but they are not substitutes for lotteries or competition with lotteries. First, they appeal to two different audiences. Second, they are nothing alike.

Lotteries—and by the same token slot machines and video lottery terminals (VLTs)—require no skill or thought. The results are random. 

With super high fives, superfectas, and pick sixes, the results are not random. The horses with the better form, jockeys, trainers, class, post, distance proclivity, surface proclivity, et cetera, have a better chance of winning or finishing in the first four or five. Handicapping—skill—comes into play.

The large majority of those attracted to mindless lotteries and VLTs because they are mindless and random are poor candidates to ever be involved betting on races. First, they have to find themselves at the racetrack. Second, if they are at the track, how could they compete in a game of skill with no prior experience?

When that fan starts to look at each individual horse and why it could win, then you have someone who may move on to show or win betting.

In racing, those with more money, and who can cover more combinations, have a much greater chance of winning than someone who randomly plays a single ticket.

An advantage that lotteries have on racing is distribution, with countless stores and outlets, as opposed to racing, which has a brick-and-mortar facility, and maybe some off-track betting outlets. Lotteries reach millions of potential players daily, and they are well promoted through television and newspapers ads.

Racing has a difficult time promoting new bets, even to existing fans. The super high five was introduced in 2007, but has not gotten much traction. With a $1 minimum, it also is expensive, so not popular among those with little resources. In a ten-horse field, the super high five has 30,240 possible combinations.

Its unpopularity is evident on racing’s biggest day, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, when all the big bettors come out and play in earnest since all the pools are large.

Last year, in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), the super high five pool was just $269,513. By comparison, the superfecta had a pool of $3,289,617, the trifecta a pool of $5,983,837, and the exacta a pool of $5,909,080.

Rather than try promoting an obscure bet with limited appeal, racing should introduce a simple wager easily understood by a novice. When a couple goes to the track and one knows a lot more about racing than the other, while one is betting superfectas and trifectas and exactas, the other can get their feet wet by betting an odd-even proposition, for example. If the race winner carries an odd-numbered saddle cloth, that is the bet winner, and if the winner carries an even-numbered saddle cloth, that is the bet winner. In a Breeders’ Cup race, that would give a novice bettor six or seven chances to win.

After a few races, someone making that bet may start to wonder why the payoffs between odd and even are not exactly the same, and you have the beginning of the education of a fan. When that fan starts to look at each individual horse and why it could win, then you have someone who may move on to show or win betting.

That process, of getting new fans started in the sport relatively simply so they are not intimidated to play or worried about looking foolish, is worth far more than the meager returns from an obscure, hard-to-win bet like the super high five.

P. T. Barnum had it figured out a century ago: No one ever got rich overestimating the intelligence of the American public. Do we need any more evidence today than slots, VLTs, and lotteries?

Let’s keep it simple, folks.

Mark Simon is editor of Thoroughbred Times. His e-mail address is msimon@thoroughbredtimes.com.

How to avoid your arm falling off? Go to the races!

 Handicapper Art ParkerBy ART PARKER

At one time you either went to the track or to Las Vegas to gamble. Now, Americans can gamble in almost every state and the greatest opportunity to do so comes in the form of a slot machine, or video poker or electronic bingo. No matter what name is given to it, the activity features man against machine. The machine is often called by its popular nickname, a one-armed bandit.

I do not know why people like to play against the bandit. These machines are programmed to pay back a certain percentage of the amount deposited over the long haul. That’s how the casino makes money and stays in business. This method of gambling is known as “playing against the house,” which legally fixes odds in its favor. Thoroughbred racing involves pari-mutuel wagering, which simply means the participants play against each other with the winners of a race sharing a common pool of wagers.

One reason I was drawn to thoroughbred racing was because of my educational background.

A large part of America that gambles knows no other method than a slot machine or similar device. The growth of casino gaming came at the perfect time in America because it fit well with the video generation. That generation has generally ignored thoroughbred racing because wagering on racing requires more than pushing a few buttons or pulling a handle. Mechanical gaming appeals to current lifestyle and is accepted by a couple of generations with “easy to do” mentalities. That is the nicest way I can say “lazy.”

Thoroughbred racing has faced challenges in maintaining its share of the gambling market and capturing America’s entertainment dollar. A big problem for thoroughbred racing is that it requires the use of brain power to have any level of success. It is not for those that are lazy and refuse to accept a challenge.  

One reason I was drawn to thoroughbred racing was because of my educational background. A corporate finance major, I was required to read all kinds of financial statements including the stock sheets found in the Wall Street Journal and other financial publications. When you view the past performances you find a similarity to the stock sheets. Bid, ask, PE ratios, fractions, etc. and racing times, finishes and racing records provide statistical evidence for one to consume. All of this is information one can use to evaluate a corporation or an individual horse, depending on which publication is being held at the moment.

While the casino patron sits in front of a machine and must only decide to pull the handle again or quit, the horse player is using brain power, logic and deep thought to make a good bet, which doesn’t necessarily mean a winning bet. A good bet is one where you have an advantage based upon odds. When I bet a horse to win, I try to do the same thing as if I am buying stock in a corporation. I am looking for a bargain. I want a horse that is going off at 10-1 while I am convinced the horse should be 4-1. When I by a stock I want a corporation that is selling for $20 per share when my evaluation tells me it should be $32 per share.

I want a bargain. A slot machine never gives you a bargain because you do not get to make a decision on the individual wager. You only decide whether or not to pull the handle…again.

If people like to gamble, large or small, thoroughbred racing offers the perfect deal. You can go to the actual track, or a simulcast parlor, or you can play via Advanced Deposit Wagering (ADW) on the internet. You can have all of the recreation you want and you can decide if you want company or not. And while you are enjoying your recreational time you can do something mentally challenging and stimulating. I promise you, a slot machine provides no mental challenge or stimulation.

To top things off you can fall in love with the greatest sport of all. It is a sport that involves interesting people and athletes, plus all of the action centers around one of God’s greatest and truly magnificent creations, a horse.

If you have not tried to be a horse player give it a shot. If you occasionally play the horses but also sit on a stool in front of a slot machine, well, come on back to the track. Play the horses where you get to make decisions about investing your dollar. If you keep playing those machines you will either eventually lose all your money or your arm will fall off trying to lose all of your money.

— Art Parker is the author of the recently released handicapping guide “KEENELAND WINNING TRAINER PATTERNS” available now for the upcoming 2011 fall meet. It can be purchased here for less than $10, or for Kindle readers at Amazon.com.