The New York Gaming Association (NYGA) - you know, the nine New York racino owners who want casino gambling all to themselves - have released their first radio ad. It will be run in the Central, Western and Southern Tier areas of New York State....a not-so-subtle dig at the Senaca Nation, which claims the Western Tier as its exclusive territory. And no doubt in response to the ad campaign planned by the tribe. You can hear the NYGA ad on their home page (though not with whatever version of Firefox I have). This is just the beginning of two years of such ads, both on radio on TV, leading up to a possible referendum in November 2013 to be sure. (And I suppose that the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which has already helped to bring the political discourse in this country down to even new lows, allows super PAC advertising on referendums as well.) I got a press release from NYGA with a handy summary of the ad. You can probably guess what's coming.
The spot begins with the sound of a vacuum cleaner. A voiceover immediately follows saying that this is the sound of money and jobs that are being “sucked right out of the state” as New Yorkers travel elsewhere for casino gaming.The NYGA and its voiceover will no doubt stick to its central message: that they are the "responsible operators we know and trust." The benevolent, kind patriarchs of benign gambling that responsibly has their facilities open only 20 hours a day. They get another dig in at the Seneca Nation with the assertion that they have "always honored their commitment to New York," no doubt a reference to the fact that the tribe has withheld $350 million in payments in protest of the racinos in their claimed zone.
Then the sound of the vacuuming ceases. [And cue the cheesy music.] The voiceover attributes this to the efforts of the Governor and the legislative leaders who have expressed their support for legalizing gaming in New York State. The voiceover continues to highlight the keys areas of the New York Gaming Association’s position and approach to legalize gaming here in New York State.
"We can change this" - there's that vacuum again - "to this" - the sound of k-ching and some people whooping and cheering. From my experience, that must have been recorded at a racetrack. I surely haven't spent that much time in racinos, and I know that people do win there at some point (don't they?) - but I've seriously never ever heard any cheering there, and have never seen anything other than that glassy-eyed, stony slightly-bored trance of an expression on anyone's face.
"Enhanced casino gaming only at racetracks - it's a jackpot for all New Yorkers." Except for those amongst us who are all too susceptible for this kind of mindless gambling.
And except perhaps for the racetracks themselves....as, opposed to VLT's for which a split for the tracks was written into the law, the industry currently has absolutely no guarantees that it will benefit from expanded gaming. NYGA will tell us that the tracks will profit from increased traffic that the new table games will attract. But they don't quite explain how they would compensate for, say, the virtual roulette games with virtual women with their virtual breasts hanging out that will be replaced by real roulette wheels with real women (who will no doubt be hired partly on the basis of their breast size). Unless the legislature makes it so at some point, the tracks would get no revenue from those; nor from any table games that just happen to usurp space now reserved for slots. The harness horsemen have already started to make that case. As usually seems to be the case, we haven't heard from the thoroughbred guys. They're probably too busy trying to figure out the best way to navigate the new landscape in which they can win $18,000 worth of purse money in a single restricted $10,000 claiming race.
And Genting, the same company that not long ago pledged to be such a good neighbor to its racing friends next door at the Big A, has already floated the idea of shutting it down.
Looking forward, the firm has also pitched to state officials a plan to shut down horse racing at Aqueduct and redevelop the racetrack at Belmont to allow it to be used in the winter, according to people familiar with discussions. In turn, the land at Aqueduct could be freed up, which would likely need to be bid out by the state.Look, Aqueduct is going to close. It might be two years, five years, ten....but it going to happen at some point. It makes too much economic and logistical sense. I've heard top NYRA officials concede so. As I've explained before, I think it would totally suck from a horseplayer's point of view. The difference in the track configuration amongst the three tracks provides much of the juice and angles for handicapping. Year round racing (except for Saratoga) at the massive Belmont track with its one turn distance races would be dreary and monotonous over the course of 10 1/2 months. We've all known all along that, at some point down the road, horse racing would outlive its usefulness for the track/racino owners, going from the reason for their very existence, to a space and money-wasting burden. But surprised to hear Genting come out and actually say it so soon. Or...maybe not so surprised.
"It makes a lot of sense," Genting's Mr. Goode said. "At this point, it's just conceptual." [Wall St Journal]