New York's Racetrack Casino Experience Will Likely Impact Massachusetts Gaming Commission

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I’d be surprised if Steve Crosby, the chair of the new Massachusetts Gaming Commission, hasn’t read and digested by now the article in yesterday’s New York Times linking the establishment of a casino at a famous New York City racetrack to a scary increase in fatal injuries to horses, (“Big Purses, Sore Horses, and Death/ Casino Cash Helps Push Cheap Racers to the Limit,” 4/30/12).
Since a casino opened at the Aqueduct Racetrack in the borough of Queens in late-2011, the “age-old economic equations of the horse-racing game” have been “recalibrated,” the Times found, contributing to a 100% increase  -- 15 to 30 deaths -- in the number of horses euthanized after injuries in races.
Casinos like the one at Aqueduct, the Times asserted, have sweetened the purses to make races more exciting and alluring to the new gambling crowd, which created an incentive for horse owners and trainers to put unfit horses into contests where they should not be and were more likely to break down.
“The casinos’ impact is greatest at the sport’s low end, the so-called claiming races, a world away from the bluegrass pageantry of Saturday’s (5/5/12) Kentucky Derby,” the Times said. 

The newspaper cited a recent claiming race at Aqueduct where horses with an individual value of $7,500 competed for a $40,000 purse, a sum four times higher than the amount recommended for such a race by the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Two of the horses in that race were badly hurt and had to be put down, according to the Times.

The governor of New York has ordered an investigation "to ensure against needless injuries to horses and to riders."

Casinos aren’t coming to Massachusetts tomorrow, and at this point, it is anybody’s guess which locations and operators will be awarded a casino license by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.  Under the law enacted by the legislature and signed by the governor last November, there are three state licenses available for resort-style casinos and one for a slot parlor.
With the example of Aqueduct so close at hand, we can be confident that Mr. Crosby and colleagues will have safety on their minds as they carefully structure any eventual deal with a Massachusetts racetrack that aspires to transform its operations by adding a casino.  The commission members are not the kind to ignore or deny a threat to the well-being of horses and the athletes who ride them, two vulnerable classes if ever there were any.

1 comment:

Ruth Mendez said...

This news maddens me! Owners and trainers must be held responsible if something bad happened to these unfit animals they put into contests where they should not be. Really unfortunate horses.

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