Advance Deposit Wagering and the Economics of RacingAlan Marzelli
Alan Marzelli: Thank you, David, for that presentation.
Well, as everybody can see, there is no shortage of opinions on this subject. But now we are left to ask, "Where do we go from here?"
In a recent Daily Racing Form column, Steve Crist wrote, "It took the industry a decade to turn account wagering into a dysfunctional, combative mess and it could take nearly as long to straighten it out."
Well, I'm here to tell you that we don't have that kind of time.
You may recall a bitter labor dispute between the owners and players of Major League Baseball that resulted in the cancellation of over 900 games, including the 1994 World Series.
It wasn't until 1998 that baseball returned to its pre-strike attendance levels, and it took a near perfect season by the Yankees - and an assault on Roger Maris' single season home-run record by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa - to bring fans back to the game.
Now I can't help but point out the irony that both players involved in that chase were subsequently suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs. But that's the second half of the program.
My real point in highlighting this piece of baseball history is that it took America's Pastime several years to recover from internal fighting and bickering among its stakeholders.
Can racing afford to do the same? I think not.
Companies and organizations throughout this industry have drifted away from collaboration in recent years, but the view here is that we won't solve this - or any of the industry's many problems - by each going our own way. We need to resolve our problems in a collaborative and cooperative manner.
We often cite Equibase as the prime example of what can be achieved when this industry works together.
Quite frankly, I'm not sure we could find the unity to create Equibase today, given the current mindset that permeates the business environment in this industry.
We are more than just a collection of corporate entities that happen to co-exist in the same industry. We are a highly interconnected group of stakeholders that together form the nucleus of the greatest interactive sport in the world. In times like this I think it's important to remember that.
Let me close by reading part of a letter I received yesterday signed by over 400 of racing's most ardent fans.
"We feel you deserve to hear directly from the people who each and every day pump millions of dollars into the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing via the virtual mutuel windows. Recently, those virtual windows have become harder to find for certain tracks, forcing players to either abandon their favorite venues altogether or register accounts at multiple ADWs. This has led to much frustration and even anger among bettors who understandably feel their concerns need to be heard at the highest levels of the sport."
As I said at the outset, we didn't get to this point overnight, and it's unrealistic to think we can solve our problems in one day. But we must begin to address them together with a sense of urgency - for the sake of our racetracks, our horsemen, and our fans.
Ogden Mills Phipps: Well said, Alan. We really are grateful to Bob, Joe and David for taking
their time and being here with us today and putting together such very good talks.