Gaming Machines Leave Racing in the Dust

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Mar. 5, 2012 12:00 am  

A jockey at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming in Hot Springs.

But McKinsey & Co. suggested some strategies to boost interest in the game, including pushing for more television coverage.

The lack of fan interest isn't a surprise to Bill Thompson of Las Vegas, author of "The International Encyclopedia of Gambling." Attendance numbers and the amount bet on horse racing has been on a steady decline since the 1970s, he told Arkansas Business last week.

"Racing is just not a product the public wants," Thompson said. "It's a very boring product."

Longinotti, Oaklawn's assistant general manager of racing, said Oaklawn is drawing about 10,000 to 11,000 fans during its live racing season, which is about 50 days and lasts from mid January to mid April.

"From Oaklawn's standpoint, what draws patrons is high-quality racing," he said.
Longinotti said Oaklawn is able to attract better horses because of the purses it pays, which is funded partly through the profits of the electronic games.

Between 2007 and 2011, the total amount paid to the horses' owners increased 11.4 percent to $15.8 million..

Longinotti said Oaklawn still is an attraction because "there is still an appreciation of horse racing as a sport. It's not just an opportunity to gamble.



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