|Racetrack Owners Have Fences to Jump Before The Home Straight|
|Topic||Supply and Demand|
|Key Words||Racetracks, betting, gambling, lotteries, prizes|
Apart from major horse races, such as the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes, racetracks tend to be poorly attended. For example, Belmont Park attracted 27,500 racegoers on average in 1970, but nowadays attracts around 8,000. There are exceptions, however, like Saratoga Springs in upstate New York and Del Mar near San Diego, where summer tourists ensure large crowds.
What happened? Racing executives are partly to blame. They did not want to televise races because they wanted to make people attend the track to bet. But television helped other sports develop new legions of fans. Then betting was allowed off-track, and alternative forms of gambling, such as lotteries, casinos, and riverboats, flourished. Now people can bet over the phone and do not have to incur the hassle and expense of going to the track. Track owners tried to bring race-goers back through free admission, free hot dogs, concerts, and lucky draws, but with little effect.
Nevertheless, betting is on the rise. Race prizes are increasing in value. Some hope that this will result in more interest in going to the track. Some track owners are planning to capture the interest of the public by turning their racetracks into entertainment centers and shopping plazas, even installing slot machines and casino games.
(Updated July 1, 2000)
|Source||Ray Kerrison, "A Day at the Races," The Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2000.|
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