California racing too pricey for some!

Dec 9, 2003 8:39 AM

A MATTER OF DOLLARS AND SENSE: "Why has Southern California racing deteriorated so badly and continues to go downhill?" asked a caller recently. He made reference to so many four and five-horse fields that have dominated the racing programs with resultant low payoffs.

We pointed out that the high cost of California racing had forced a number of horsemen to pack up and go elsewhere. "Workmen’s Comp alone is chasing away a number of stables, "explained one prominent horseman who pointed out that he pays about $33 in workmen’s compensation insurance for every $100 of payroll.

"Common sense tells you that few people can afford to race in California under those conditions," he said.

The most recent stable on the move is that of Trainer James K. Chapman who announced that he has bought a farm in Florida and will transfer his operation to the Sunshine State. He has some California owners so he will continue to race them on the West Coast but his primary operation will be in Florida.


IS THERE AN 8-BALL HERE? Word out of New York last week was that prosecutors have worked out a deal with the N.Y. Racing Association that would have the non-profit organization indicted on conspiracy, tax evasion and fraud charges. NYRA would pay a multi-million dollar fine but would avoid a trial.

And NYRA would continue to operate Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga under its long-term franchise.

Sounds good, except for the slots conundrum: NYRA has a deal with MGM MIRAGE to set up a 4,500 slot machine casino at Aqueduct, but the giant gaming company put everything on hold because it feared for its own licenses if it started doing business with a convicted felon.

Everyone in New York wants the slots revenue to flow so does that mean MGM MIRAGE will get a pass on the deal?


ROSE’S PRISON WITHOUT BARS: That’s the title of a new book dealing with the life of baseball legend and gambling bad boy Pete Rose.

The book, actually titled, "My Prison Without Bars" will go on sale on Jan. 8, two days after the announcement of the 2004 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees.

This will be the second book depicting Rose’s life. This one was written by Rick Hill while the first, "Pete Rose: My Story," was Rose’s autobiography.

Rose is still ineligible for the Hall of Fame because of an agreement he made with baseball officials in 1989 following an investigation into his gambling activities. However, he has applied for reinstatement and is awaiting a decision by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.


IS THIS A CLEARANCE SALE? Alliance Gaming Corp. has agreed to sell its Sparks Rail City Casino to Sands Regent for about $38 million.

It was revealed Monday that the slot-machine and gaming technology company said the sale is consistent with its plan to divest non-core assets when the timing and selling price were right.

I guess things were right: The deal consists of $35 million in cash and $3 million of subordinated debt provided by Alliance.

The Rail City Casino, located just outside of Reno, has been profitable for the company over the past six years, Alliance said, despite growing competition from Native American-owned casinos in California.

Sands Regent, which operates its flagship casino in Reno, said it is looking to expand within the Reno-area market.


Alliance Gaming sold its Bally Wulff unit in July and plans to close early next year the sale of its gaming route operations, including the Las Vegas-based United Coin Machine Co. and the New Orleans-based Video Services.

It could be a nice time to pick up some spin-offs, if you’ve got the loose change.



SUMMIT IN NORTHERN NEVADA: The first Northern Nevada Gaming Summit will be held Feb. 18-19, 2004, at Harrah’s Reno. The Summit will tackle the many challenges and opportunities facing the market for our pals up north.

The event begins with an evening reception and welcome keynote address the evening of Feb. 18, followed by a full day of seminars and workshops on Feb. 19. Session topics include an in-depth analysis of Reno market demographics, successful marketing and promotional strategies and the impact of expanded gaming in Northern California.

Speakers will be composed of Raving Consulting’s team of 15 industry specialists, Reno casino industry leaders and nationally recognized gaming executives.

On Feb. 19, Phil Satre, Chairman of the Board of Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., will provide the keynote luncheon presentation that will challenge Reno to "get off the porch if it wants to run with the big dogs." Bill Eadington, University of Nevada Reno Professor and Director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming, will provide the keynote remarks at the Opening Night Reception Feb. 18. Reno Mayor Robert Cashell will be one of several speakers during the "Public/Private Partnerships" session.