Slotted for success

At Evangeline July 2, the 12th was a maiden race with a $40,000 purse. This payoff included $25,000 in slot machine revenue.

In this race, one horse was 0-10.

One jockey was 3-107. You or I could go around 2-107.

A trainer was 1-26.

On the same day at Delta, there was a non-winners-of-two allowance race with a purse of $29,000. Included in this pot was $27,000 from the slot machines.

The field was a combined 10-116.

Three trainers were winless; several others appeared clueless.

Here's the way it works in the city in which I reside. The Native Americans pay the local horse race track $2 million per year not to run slot machines. There's no typographical error in there. What's easier than not doing something? Here's how you don't put in slots. You turn up the air conditioner and turn on the TV and have a look at the national situation. Slot revenue is considered to be that valuable, that a few dozen machines could do that much damage to casino business.

Imagine starting your business year plus $2 mil.

This becomes the plan: Don't lose too much of it.

During the regular horse race meet, you dust off the starting gate and hose off the restrooms and play host to 30 or 40 live race fans per night while hoping that the local media doesn't get on your case. If you don't actually need the money, you might not go out of your way to hustle new simulcast action by running your races Monday and Tuesday. Say you lose $600,000 per year going through the motions on a live meet. Two million take away around six hundred thousand, somebody pass the mustard, that's still $1.4 million more than you had this time last time.

Twenty seven thousand of a $29,000 purse coming from slots, causing Mom and Pop Stables to thrive with nags competing tooth and hoof for fat purses around the country, can such a goldmine continue?

My most recent casino tour produced the following observations.

They don't run TV advertisements showing people trying different credit cards at the ATMs in casinos. They show people whooping it up while winning.

There's nothing more dangerous when it comes to possible financial ruin that casinos in places where there had been no full-time gambling. It takes time to learn how to quit ahead or how to quit behind. People relatively new to around the clock gambling are subject to being skinned. When last I was audited by my good friends at the IRS, I asked a supervisor if gambling debts had become a major item with the onslaught of casinos. She said that she could not discuss such matters while nodding. The person who helps me with my taxes by doing them all says that if the truth were known, casino gambling debts and the resulting personal and family ruin therein would be a banner headline. The brother of a friend of mine is a pit boss at a casino here and says the money put in play on a regular basis is substantial, substantial in casino talk representing something like most of the disposable income in the state.

That new wings are constantly being added onto previously new wings at casinos in the area, and that his and her Corvettes are given away like tote bags, suggests that slot machine players are here to stay.

I asked dozens of slot players if they knew what the takeout rate was on the machines in the place where they were stuffing twenties and hundreds. Several asked what a takeout rate was. It's what the casino earns on every dollar bet. Nobody knew. Not even girls who served drinks. Not even dealers. Not even anybody. Was it posted? Nobody knew. Somebody said that if a casino exceeded the sort-of legal takeout rate, they might get fined $15 or so. Slot machine players new to the game tend to think that of every dollar wagered, somebody has to win something; so why not them. That might be true if you hit a big pot early in your slot career and quit. But there is the psycho tendency to think that if you can do it once, you could do it again and again and again. Were a person to think that over the long haul, you'd lose five percent of every dollar put into play, you'd considered having your head examined.

At certain places in the sticks, they actually line up to get at popular slot machines.

So in summation, it appears that horse racing has sugar daddies and mommas who will remain in place.

Attention, aisle three, Welfare check needs cashing.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com.