Our horsey set works to find a replacement for Suffolk Downs

BloodHorse reports that the company that now runs Suffolk Downs - the land for which it's sold to a developer keen on attracting Amazon - is working with New England horse breeders and racers to look for a new site on which to build a replacement track.

H/t Steve Holt.



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    I can understand taking care of the horses, but a new racetrack? Who would invest their money in that proposition?

    People who enjoy horse racing

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    If you read the article, you see a passing reference to Frank Stronach. Now, it would appear in some horse racing circles his name is mud, but he has put a lot of money into the sport.

    Also (again in the story) the new racetrack brings with it simulcast rights, which means you get a percentage of moneys wagered on races from New York to Australia. That's where the cash is.

    Finally, as another commenter noted, the casinos of Massachusetts are by law required to put money into a fund that supports Massachusetts horse racing. Right now, because there are so few racing dates in Massachusetts (8 in 2017) there are "state bred" races for Massachusetts horses at the Finger Lakes Racetrack in Western New York. One would imagine that the breeders would prefer the races be run in Massachusetts.

    Myself, I cannot wait for the new track to open. If it is done right, this could be a cool thing.


    I don't have a problem with horse racing per se and can imagine going to Sarasota, etc... is probably pretty cool.


    I can't stand the fact that due to backroom favoritism, we're essentially reanimating an industry which faced a normal business collapse due to market forces. This is exactly as stupid as if we, as a state, decided that the Filene's Basement stores were too critical a part of our cultural heritage to let fail so we diverted tens of millions of dollars towards relaunching the brand.

    To loop this back to all of our favorite topics, what if we'd used that money to reset the MBTA finances or something? We'd have an even more dynamic regional hub for the economy and could think about using growth to improve places like Lawrence, Lowell, New Bedford, etc... But no, we need to make sure Deleo's buddies can race their horses closer to home and that their various nephews or nieces or whoever can get a job at the track. The mind boggles. It's truly a total failure of leadership and vision at the top level of the state government.

    If you want market forces

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    Build a time machine and go back 2 years ago and have the state just give Suffolk Downs a casino license. Tracks across the nation have been given licenses, or they've paired up with the local Indian gaming facilities to work something out. To speak to your comparison, the Main Streets Program is an example of the government stepping in to aid business adversely impacted by competition (the rise of shopping centers, which in the case of the first Main Streets program in Boston, was an attempt to allow Roslindale Square to compete with the Dedham Mall.) So, yes, it does happen, and if you don't frequent Massachusetts' casinos, you will not be paying a dime to this fund.

    Forcing the casinos to earmark some of their earnings for another form of gambling that has been adversely impacted by the rise of casinos makes a lot more sense than earmarking the same funds for the T. I mean, why not just force every business or set aside funds for the T. Why not just put a fee on every movie ticket sold and put that money to the T. At the end of the day, this is a transfer within an industry as opposed to a tax that is taken for a completely different purpose.

    That's false equivalency

    So your argument is that instead of just maxing our benefit from a casino, we needed to prop up a different kind of gambling establishment which has been failing for many decades? Why not just siphon off Keno money or scratch ticket money for the horses too? It's all gambling and it all contributes to the decline of horse racing, which is really due to the proliferation of other, easier ways to gamble.

    To me, this is an opportunity cost. When the state decided to allow casinos, it only should have been analyzed for the cost /benefit to the state in general, not specific, declining specialized sectors of the economy.

    Someone is going to make millions off of this and it isn't gong to the tax payers.

    It's a closer equivelency

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    Than saying that the money should go to roads.

    If that money wasn't going to horse racing, it would be going straight into the pockets of the casinos. Don't kid yourself otherwise. They've never griped (at least publically) about this, because in the end they will be making money anyways.


    The state is taking some amount of money from the casino revenues and giving it to the horse people. The state could easily have set up the same funding mechanism and allocated it to some other cause, be it public safety, transportation, whatever. The state had that power when debating about allowing casinos and this is where they went with it. Do you really think the public at large would have supported that vs. some other use for the money? 0.0% likely. This is a bag job by insiders for insiders.

    Or are you saying that somehow Wynn wouldn't have bid for a license here if they knew the casino tax wasn't going to other gambling interests? I mean, get real.

    Now however, it's a political football and is a waste of money that could have done something better than enrich whichever Deleo crony gets the green light to develop a track with free money collected by the state just for them.

    The state could have

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    But they didn't do what you wanted them to do.

    In the end, our elected representatives set up this funding mechanism, and all those who bid on the licenses agreed to it (though Sterling Suffolk, Carney in Brockton, and Plainridge obviously agreed 100% with it.) If they wanted a revenue source dedicated to the T, bridges, or whatever, they could have put it in the legislation. The legislation was designed in part to assist horse racing and the associated industries, and it is. Circling around to the story we are commenting on, if this group can pull off building a new track, we can all enjoy the results of the law.

    Honestly, I do think that new funding sources are needed for transportation. The moneys in this fund would barely make a dent in the transportation infrastructure needs of the Commonwealth, so hopefully the ideas you get the General Court to support will hopefully raise a lot more money.

    I guess

    Sure, you're correct but none of what you wrote is a counter to my opinion that the Deleo cabal failed to act with any kind of vision or leadership as per usual.

    It's a closer equivelency

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    Than saying that the money should go to roads.

    If that money wasn't going to horse racing, it would be going straight into the pockets of the casinos. Don't kid yourself otherwise. They've never griped (at least publically) about this, because in the end they will be making money anyways.

    Fund it privately, then

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    As a Commonwealth, we rejected the whole Olympics boondoggle and the Indycar boondoggle.

    We should not be funding money losing propositions like this with tax dollars.

    Unless you plan to commute by horse, this is a joke.

    Yeah but it's the law?

    It's not tax dollars. This is money gathered expressly for this purpose, stupid as it is, like the convention center rental car charge (another insider grift)

    Our leaders (who are overwhelming supported by all the various progressive democrats in the State House) wrote a law that a cut of casino money has to be funneled to a fund just for horse racing.


    Update - apparently the current fund has somewhere around $15+ million which isn't actually *that* much money on a state level but it's still very galling. However when the Wynn comes online, I think then we're into real money.

    Great, but

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    Tax dollars are not financing this.

    So I'll put you down as supporting this, then.

    This is a tax on gambling

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    Unless you are paying for it out of your own pocket.

    Semantics are for the intellectually disingenuous. Public money that is taken from a revenue stream and earmarked for a hobby.

    Who pays this "tax"?

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    It is the cost of having a casino license. The poor slobs losing their Social Security checks at the slot machines aren't being taxed on this. The casinos are merely being asked, as a condition of receiving a gaming license, to set a portion of their earnings aside for another gaming enterprise.

    As for the semantics of it all, we are talking about 3 or perhaps 4 taxpayers in a state with a population of over 6 million. I think those 3 or 4 taxpayers can handle the hit, especially since one is benefiting from it and the other 2 are not griping about it. It's not public money. It is not taken from a revenue stream, but rather it is an additional stream of money that is earmarked for a certain purpose, like the gas tax, only, once again, just 3 taxpayers are paying it.

    That's the rub

    Finally, as another commenter noted, the casinos of Massachusetts are by law required to put money into a fund that supports Massachusetts horse racing.

    This is an government graft at it's finest. This is like mandating that $5 of every computer sale go to owners of typewriter stores since some people still prefer to write with them. (And hey, it's not easy selling something few people want.)

    The public doesn't benefit from laws like this -- it only serves to make a lucky few richer. (Who use their wealth to continue buying access to lawmakers.) There should be a state constitutional amendment that no required fees can be used to support for-profit businesses.

    The people who work at the track benefit

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    as well as the community where the track is located. Raynham lost a lot of tax dollars when PETA and their minions outlawed dog racing in this state. As well as Wonderland/ Revere.
    Don't get me started on that vote, I worked at the track as well as a lot of my friends in High School. Those dogs ate better than I did. They race for a few years and are adopted out. People at the time made it out like they were being beaten and starved and put down when they lost a race. As it turns out MA had the strictest laws in the country regarding the treatment of racing dogs, and what happened was PETA sent the existing dogs to states that weren't so kind, so bully for them I guess.
    Full disclosure: I am not a gambler and could care less about having a spot to pay the ignorance tax, but these places can be fun and bring in money and jobs for town/communities that need them. Raynham Taunton for instance had a killer Sunday Brunch deal with a great view of the races at 2 fine dining facilities there. Even iif you weren't betting it was pretty cool.
    Now that place is just a sad sea of lotto junkies betting on simulcasts and eating chicken fingers and fries from a concession stand.

    What does the dog race ban

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    What does the dog race ban referendum have to do with an unjustified subsidy for horse tracks?

    The Carneys

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    not the circus variety, the family that owns the Raynham Taunton Dog Track. They outfitted that place for slots machines long before the dogs were gone, then they didn't get a slot licence. They have the land and the facilities already. I'm guessing they take a stab at it before the place turns into another boarded up business. They already have off-track simulcast betting there. Live race would bring in people and get their fine dining restaurants going again.

    It almost has to happen

    given the large pool of money that Deleo mandated be generated for horse racing by the casinos. instead of, you know, fixing roads, bridges, schools, etc...

    Deleo is easily the worst powerful politician in the state.

    Waquiot beat me to much of it

    I love that he misspelled the name of the 1987 Mass Cap winner, just as American Pharoah is also a misspelling.

    I adore horse racing. It's the single most stimulating mental exercise I've found. At this point, I would say that I play semi-professionally. However, I don't want for government to artificially subsidize mine (or anybody's) hobby or profession.

    At its best, a day at the races is exciting, and still reaches fans of all ages. Problem is, there's no national governing body for the sport. Thus, governance of horse racing is left to state governments. Problem is, especially on the East Coast, states are very small in size, and when one state doesn't give you what you want, another one that will is very close by.

    New Jersey won't force casinos to subsidize horse racing purses? Goodbye forever, racetrack in Atlantic City. Hello, year-round racing three or four nights a week at night in Grantville, Pennsylvania at Penn National. Boston had eight days of horse racing in 2017, and Grantville, Pennsylvania will have between 150 and 200. Soak in just how (expletive) stupid that is.

    At least Penn National runs at night so that the handful of people who a) have day jobs and b) haven't stopped and sat at the slots on their way from the plant entrance to the track apron can see $4,000 claiming horses (horses for compulsory sale) in action. Pennsylvania's government made that happen.

    Waquiot also beat me to "why not have movie tickets fund the T?" It is not a path to long-term prosperity for horse racing purses to be funded by slot machines by legislative fiat. Why doesn't Amazon subsidize the racing and keep it on the property? I'll give you a hint: Because they don't want to. And I don't want them to.

    I’m glad you picked up on the name

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    But sad I misspelled it when I registered.

    At one point I pondered how much effort I was putting into commenting on this here, then I remembered that I had to represent.

    Two new courses are being built in Kentucky. That will bring the total to 6 (yes, I count Kentucky Downs).