The Ohio Harness Racing industry is showing signs of resurgence, just three months after introducing Slot machines to its racecourses.
Betting figures, attendance and even the number of horse racing mares bred in Ohio are up thanks to the landmark decision to introduce Slots and other video gaming to racecourses.
The figures have Ohio racing administrators dreaming of returning the state to the top of the harness racing industry.
Until 2006 Ohio Harness Racing was the envy of the entire country but the introduction of Slot machines to Pennsylvania and Indiana racecourses meant that financially Ohio could not keep up with their rivals.
Pennsylvania and Indiana used Slot machine revenue to increase racing prize money and to increase the number of horses bred in each state.
Administrators of Ohio racecourses are extremely optimistic for the future of the Ohio racing industry and thankful for the role slots have played in the recovery.
“We’ve all been waiting for so many years for slots to save racing in Ohio,” said Vickie McNabb, director of the Lebanon Raceway track for the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association.
“We know all of our struggles are going to turn and racing in Ohio will be good again.”
Jerry Knappenberger, general manager of the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association, believes that the decision to introduce slot machines to racecourses will have positive effects on the overall Ohio economy.
“The more Ohio horses we have, the more need for Ohio agricultural products,” he said.
“The Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association and its members, working with the racetracks, want to rebuild the Ohio standard-bred industry to the promise it once held.
“Other states with expanded gaming have seen increases in: Horse training and breeding operations; investment in farming, barns and livestock; and, the need for additional veterinary services because of increases in foal production.”
The Scioto Downs racecourse has seen a particular boom since the introducing of slot machines.
“Net revenue from video lottery gaming hit $11.8 million in July, with 9 percent set in escrow to benefit breeding and racing in the state, including upping purses at the races. Purses have risen twice since June, growing from a range of $2,000 to $4,000 per race in 2011 and to $4,000 to $15,000 this year. Betting on live races also is up about 35 percent over last year,” said Stacey Cahill, general manager at Scioto Downs.
Ontario horse racing administrators are pointing to the results in Ohio as yet another reason why their government has made a mistake ending its profitable Slots-At-Racetracks program.
Source: Dayton Daily News