George Kerr, co-owner of a Sanford OTB, is quoted in the report as saying the payments are justified, because the Bangor racino has sharply reduced his business. “Everybody’s losing money,” Kerr said. “[The gamblers] are all going to Bangor, or they’re going to Foxwoods.”
The state can produce numbers that appear to back Kerr up. Since 2002, wagers at Maine’s four OTBs have fallen by more than $15 million a year. The handle at Scarborough Downs and Bangor Raceway has declined from nearly $30 million in 1991 to barely $7.5 million last year.
Or maybe not. Kerr’s claims to the contrary, the big shift in gambling revenues in recent years hasn’t been from the traditional betting facilities to racinos. It’s been to the Internet. On-line wagering dwarfs whatever bets Hollywood Slots sucks up. That might hurt OTBs, but it actually helps the racetracks.
According to Sports Illustrated, “In 2006 the pari-mutuel handle in North America topped out at $15.6 billion. Because tracks keep between 15% and 25% of every dollar wagered on their races, about $3.1 billion of that total is revenue, putting a sport that is supposedly outside the mainstream on par with the NBA (which earned $3 billion last season) and above the NHL ($2.3 billion).”
I suppose that means we’re going to have to subsidize professional basketball and hockey.
The Sports Illustrated article concludes, “Racing isn’t dying. Far from it. Follow the money, and you’ll find the game.”
Find this game: Change Maine law to take away the windfall we’re giving to gamblers.
And find some other way to keep those freaks away from me.
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