Track wants to join, not fight lottery Rosecroft president wants joint trifecta with state

December 10, 1992|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Will El Gordo soon be joined by El Hoof-o?

Rosecroft Raceway president Ted Snell, who meets with lottery officials tomorrow to discuss wiring his track for keno, told the Maryland Racing Commission yesterday that horse racing should join forces with the state lottery, instead of fighting it.

"I don't know how many millions have been spent [by the racing industry] lobbying against the lottery," Snell said. "Now is the time to work together."

Snell also will propose the creation of a joint weekly game that would be handled at lottery terminals. It would operate &r something like a twin "cross-breed" trifecta. Players would pick a 1-2-3 Triple finish from a Saturday race at Laurel and combine it with the correct 1-2-3 finish in a Saturday night Rosecroft race.

Snell said that if the game generated a $1 million weekly handle, it could boost purses by $40,000 to $50,000 a week.

One previous attempt to link horse racing with lotteries failed. Managements of Churchill Downs, Pimlico and the New York Racing Association were unsuccessful in promoting a "Triple Crown Lottery" several years ago because states were unwilling to pay for the game.

Unlike horse racing, which returns about 80 percent of the handle to bettors, the lottery returns 60 percent. If the racing industry was involved, the lottery would have to share part of that revenue, probably about 10 to 15 percent, with racing interests.

Why, one track executive said, would the state want to give up part of its proceeds when it could just start another game like the new $5-a-ticket El Gordo that would cost nothing (in third-party fees)?

Martin Jacobs, executive vice president and chief counsel for Laurel-Pimlico, said "the state might be interested if it thought it was a way to try to compensate the racing industry for the [anticipated] impact of keno. It might be worth exploring."

Snell said that Laurel executive Tom Lattanzi has done a study on keno "in four states that also have racing and found that keno instantly decreases the handle at the tracks by 10 to 15 percent."

Keno is a bingo-like lottery game that debuts Jan. 4 in such outlets as bars, restaurants and bowling alleys.

Elyn Garrett-Jones, a spokeswoman for the office of lottery director William Rochford, said yesterday, "This is the first time we've heard about this [Snell's idea]. Until we've seen any proposals, we really can't comment.However, we'd love to sit down and meet with racing representatives."

Racing commission chairman Jack Mosner said that televising lTC Gulfstream-Oaklawn-Santa Anita races at state tracks and starting an inter-track network "will provide bettors a broader menu" and might be the way racing can combat keno.

Electronic racing gets OK

The board yesterday unanimously approved Laurel-Pimlico's request to take simulcasts from Gulfstream, Oaklawn and Santa Anita parks, targeted to start Jan. 22.

The simulcasts will not be telecast on Mondays and Wednesdays, days thoroughbred tracks are closed.

Union talks to begin

Tom Russow, president of Local 27 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, said that talks will start in Baltimore today with thoroughbred track management concerning changes in the current labor contract concerning the possible addition of wagering on multiple signal simulcasts.

The issues to be discussed are changes in salary and work hours for mutuels employees once they begin taking bets on the extra races.

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