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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Recession Proof

- Revenues at Yonkers Raceway's racino was up an unbelievable 30% - $28 million - in the period from April through June as compared to the same timeframe last year.

Track officials Friday attributed the growth in part to better marketing and a full year in operation. Some experts said that with the high price of gas, gamblers are staying closer to home -- making Yonkers, close to New York City, a more attractive option.

"Basically what we are seeing is the impact of $4 gas," said Bennett Liebman, an industry expert and head of the Racing and Wagering Law Program at Albany Law School.

"We are seeing significant declines in Atlantic City and the Connecticut casinos, and we're just seeing more and more people realizing how convenient Yonkers is." []
Bad economy? Ha! I know some commenters here have mentioned how the stay-near-home effect will help ensure a good Saratoga meet. The difference I believe is this - why would anyone in Saratoga who wants to gamble go anywhere else anyway? Plenty of action right there. I'd think that the harness track racino would stand to be the biggest beneficiary, as some may forego the greater variety of games at casinos elsewhere and stay local.

I think that the whole notion of gamblers staying close to home because of gas is silly anyway. How much, really, is the additional cost of driving to Atlantic City or Connecticut at $4.35 a gallon as opposed to $2.85? The price of an extra round of drinks, maybe? The main point here in my mind is simply that people will gamble whether times are good or bad. Overall, the state's eight racinos grew by 17%, only Monticello went down, and just wait until their new facility opens at the Concord, which promises to be the most happening event for the state's harness industry since...I can't even say. Perhaps we're seeing the effects of the new revenue splits which give the racinos more money for marketing. Lottery scratch-off ticket sales also grew. Revenue from high-priced instant-lottery games that sell for $10 and $20 a ticket soared by 26 percent in the first quarter.

If I'm wrong about a decline in business at Saratoga, it will, I think, not be driven primarily by locals staying home, but simply due to this mind-boggling addiction - I don't really know what else to call it - that our society has to gambling, which seems to be virtually recession-proof.

- OK, I'm sure virtually no one will see this before the races, but just some very quick thoughts on a few of today's races. Tizdejavu (2-1) appears to lay over the other horses with North American form in the American Derby at Arlington, but there are two beautifully bred European horses with nice form. Great War Eagle (3-1) is the more accomplished of the two with two seconds in Group 3's in Ireland. He's by Storm Cat, out of the Juvie Fillies winner Cash Run, who is in turn a half-sister to G1 winner and prominent sire Forestry. Blue Exit (10-1) has excellent form in listed races in France, and has Timeform - or whatever the hell they are - figures competitive with Great War Eagle. He's by Pulpit, out of an Arch half-sister to Dynaformer.

A tepid vote for Great Couturier in the Man O'War. He got good last year, and you can certainly excuse his BC Turf. He closed very well for third in his first race since then, getting the last quarter in 22 2/5, and could improve second off the layoff and getting an extra furlong. Curlin is 3-5 morning line, and NYRA is letting people in for free, so they can save $2 before they u redrop thousands betting on the favorite!

Colonel John (8-5) really has to prove himself in the Swaps I believe. Besides the fact that he's Colonel John, and was 9-2 in the Derby, I don't see why he should be rated higher than Two Step Salsa (2-1), who is plain faster based on the Beyers. By the way, four horses have come out of the Derby to win its next race. The first person who can correctly identify them without looking at Formulator will win......well, nothing, but I'll mention your name and send you a CD I don't like if you reimburse me for the postage and the gas to get to the post office.

And I like Atoned in the Long Branch at Monmouth. Nice second to Cool Coal Man in his return. I know he's had a penchant for close losses, but, as little as I think of Cool Coal Man, I think he's better than either Z Humor or the overrated Hey Byrn (setting myself up for abuse here).

That's it, good luck.


Valerie Grash said...

Now, Alan, why did you have to go pick my boy Grand Couturier? Aren't your picks like the kiss of death? LOL! :) You know I kid...but, seriously!

SaratogaSpa said...

Your post today hits on an essential point-whether it is a racino, a flat track, an OTB or an NFL game, or Mega Millions -people in this country are addicted to gambling-in good times and bad. I think the addiction is so great that they will spend less on gas to gamble closer to home so they can put that savings (small as it is) into the slot machine instead of the tank. What a country!

Anonymous said...

The slot parlors get more money for marketing and business goes up.

Contrast to NY racing where a takeout increase feeds the slugs at OTB while ignoring the customer.

Yonkers is clean and modern. They have a rebate program for players of all sizes.

NYRA needs to improve their customer experience in many areas. Right now they are a few steps behind casinos and racinos.

Anonymous said...

Alan well at least rap tale beat a horse.Owners always love there horses. logically that was a terrible spot for the horse. why would Bruce Brown pick that race out of town. curious minds want to know!. dirt not grass for that horse.

Anonymous said...

Alan has no Idea what a recession Is.

A recession is two Quarters of negative growth.

We have not had One quarter of negative growth.

Our last recession was in 2000.

Must be trying for a job at the N.Y.Times,but you better hurry things are not looking good over there.

Anonymous said...

However, the folks in Vegas, being a destination gambling den, may have a different tale to tell. The old saw is that movies, theater, entertainment in general, including gambling, do better in bad times as people need an escape from reality. I think you are focusing on local gambling as opposed to distant destination gambling, i.e., Las Vegas, which is not well positioned in the current economic mix.

Atlantic City and Foxwoods/Mohican Sun, on the other hand, with their close proximity to Metro NY and the latter between Metro Boston and Metro NY, would seem to be poised for big gains. Saratoga, I believe, will at least hold it's own this year as the top quality of the Saratoga product is what wins loyal customers.

I hope Saratogaspa is right in his/her prediction. Yup, what a country- so long as the house of cards stays up! /S/Green Mtn Punter