by Al Cimaglia
November 30, 2017
There's no doubt I look at thing differently than most, it's not a badge of honor but it is the way it is. What fascinates me is not how fast things change but rather how long they stay the same. Does anyone think sexual harassment in the workplace is something that just started happening? The answer is obviously-NO. Why after decades and decades of in appropriate actions, which for the most part have been accepted, are things finally changing?
Unfortunately, my guess is it's not a new moral awareness that has swept the country. Rather the impetus to fire and reveal the antics of one Harvey Weinstein, was caused because someone in a corporate office with power, said enough is enough. Most likely the underlying reason to fire Weinstein was motivated by money. In this case Weinstein's behavior was thought to be dangerous to the brand and could open the way for many lawsuits. Money is the root of all evil, but it is also the reason for change.
Money and change, there's a correlation that shouldn't be ignored, and there is another substantial game changer that could be coming soon. Caught in the winds of a new paradigm involving the possible legalization of sports gambling is the horse racing industry.
On Monday, December 4th the U.S. Supreme Court will begin to hear oral arguments concerning the legalization of sports betting in New Jersey. This case has taken years to reach the ultimate decision makers of our country and many believe it has defied the odds to get this far. But since the Chief Justices have agreed to hear the case the odds have shifted. Ruling in favor of the legalization of sports gambling in New Jersey has gone from unlikely to having more than a puncher's chance of happening.
From what has been speculated the race tracks in New Jersey would be the first sport books in the state. It has been mentioned to me by those familiar with Monmouth Park that it is practically in plug and play mode now to handle sports betting. Horse racing in general could get a boost in traffic coming to tracks and that could lead to an increase in the fan base.
It remains to be seen how sports betting would be taxed, and who would benefit. But it seems very likely if the Supreme Court decision favors New Jersey, other states will line up to do the same. Once again money is key, and many states could use the additional revenue. If judging need by the poorest debt rating, Illinois and New Jersey come out on top. The Meadowlands and Freehold are in New Jersey, and the last harness track racing in Illinois is Hawthorne Race Course.
Harness racing and horse racing in general have been on a downward path in popularity for decades. There could be an argument made legalizing sports betting will decrease the horse racing handle. It's my take that a likely result is a more accepted view on gambling nationwide will help racing, as in a rising tide lifts all boats.
No matter what conclusion you arrive at, things have stayed the same in horse racing for a very long time and it's time for substantial change. Maybe the Supreme Court will help kick-start horse racing into the 21st century. What is certain, the coming sports betting ruling could be the most important and impactful in years.
Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia