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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Haves and Have-Nots

- Philadelphia Park tried to sleaze their way out of building a permanent slots facility, which would have left their dwindling base of on-track horseplayers huddled on the 5th floor. That effort was denied after an outcry from furious horsemen and Gaming Board members. But they are still ticking off the board, this time by not having yet submitted for review their proposed changes in their construction plans for the facility. Dec 18 is the deadline to either have those plans approved or to apply for an extension of their current temporary slots license. "It behooves you to get your plans in ... to give us plenty of time," gaming board chairman Tad Decker told [Philly Park Chairman Bob] Green. [AP]

Whatsmore, the track told the board that they will not meet the 2008 deadline for completion of the facility due to the discovery of cement foundations from a defunct Bethlehem Steel factory. The new work will mean an opening in the second quarter of 2009.

Speed is a primary focus of the gaming board, which has approved 11 slots casinos in Pennsylvania, because a portion of the gambling revenue is to be parlayed into tax cuts for homeowners in much of the state and people who pay Philadelphia's wage tax.
But across the state at the Meadows harness track, the owners are sparing no expense. They've announced plans to not only build a permanent facility housing 3,000 machines as well as a 205 room hotel/spa, but a brand new grandstand for the harness track as well. As opposed to the anger towards Philly Park, the Gaming Board is understandably thrilled.
"It's outstanding news," said board member Sanford Rivers..."They seem to be exceeding what they said they're going to do. They're saying they want to be bigger and better."
The hotel and spa will cost about $75,000 per room to build, or about $15 million, said Michael Graninger, general manager of The Meadows. The expanded project would add about 125 jobs, for a total of 1,200 employees.[Pittsburgh Tribune Review]
The expansion is made possible by far far higher revenues from slots that were originally projected. You may recall that the Meadows' license application was the only one from an existing track that was somewhat in doubt due to low revenue expectations. But while the board had projected a mere $108 per machine in daily take, the actual numbers were an impressive $371 per machine in July, a figure that some racinos in New York State would be thrilled to be earning half of.

And it's nice to see that this is one racino that will at least attempt to highlight the racing.
The permanent building would combine slots and harness racing under one roof. A second-floor steakhouse would overlook the racetrack and the casino floor. A food court with seating for 200 would be accessible from the grandstands and casino.

"It's a completely interactive gaming experience," LaTorre said. "You can play the slot machines and walk right out on the track. We're trying to do everything we can to bring the two different aspects together."
While there's been no evidence of any crossover from slots players to the races thus far, here's one racetrack which will at least give it a shot.

- In West Virginia, with the final table games referendum coming up on Saturday in Kanawha County (where over 10,000 early ballots have already been cast), gambling opponents are being swamped financially by the track and slots supporters. Tri-State Racetrack and Gaming Center spent $300,000 just on the ballots and poll workers, and more on a flurry of television, radio and print ads pushing for table games.
Tri-State has also paid for T-shirts, giveaways and mass mailings urging voters to vote “yes” on the issue.

“We did what we needed to do,” [VP Dan Adkins] said. He did say the final cost to Tri-State for the election would be less than $1 million. [Charleston Gazette]
And as far as the opponents?
“We don’t really have the resources [to run television ads],” said Melody Potter, one of the organizers of the Kanawha County campaign against table gaming.

Potter said gaming opponents have spent about $7,000 so far. Much of the expense has been for about 2,300 yard signs urging voters to vote against table gaming. Potter said opponents also sprang for 20 4-by-4-foot signs and five 4-by-1-foot signs.
So, which side do you think is going to win? As with all of American politics these days, it's all about the cash.


Jim L said...

Anthony Mormino, a handicapper/analyst/host on Capital OTB has a current bankroll of $752 after starting out with $1200. The guy hardly ever picks a winner, yet he wears some of the most gaudy and ostentatious clothes at the track.

How does this guy make a living?

As Steve Crist has pointed out, the most pressing need for the racing franchise is to dismantle the OTB structure, sending people like Mormino out to pasture. Do they pay those hosts a lot? Kling, Veitch and their co-hosts do a good job, but again, do they get compensated a lot for that type of work?

Anonymous said...

The owners of Philly Park are flat out cheap. They will not spend a dollar that they are not forced to spend. Right now the State has leverage against them. If the State does not make it VERY clear that that leverage will be exercised, then nothing will happen here.