Just to be clear, again, funneling a portion of racino slots money into purses and breeding is corporate welfare. Sure, the horse people call it a “state-business partnership.” But as the saying goes, it is what it is, and here is what it is: Expanded gaming is all the rage for cash-strapped states. Enter the horsemen. They say, since track owners already have the facilities for gambling, give them the Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) licenses. But when doing so, make sure you legally bind them to continue live racing and, as importantly, demand they send some of the loot our way.
As ThistleDown prepares for its second season with VLT revenue, excitement – for the horsemen, that is – pervades. And why not? As a recent press release notes, the more than 1,000 VLTs added last April “breathed new life into the sport of kings in Northeast Ohio.” “New life,” here, translates to a 28% increase in purses, with the Ohio Derby (July 19th) pot triple what it was last year. Yes, times are good, but not because of a successful product. If forced to rely on handle and attendance alone, much of horseracing, especially at the harness level, would be dead or dying by now. Racinos are welfare. Period.