Race commission says marketing needed in addition to slots

Daily Record Business Writer
February 3, 2009 5:45 PM

Maryland racing officials expressed concern Tuesday that if media coverage of the sport continues to decline, slot machines alone could not fill up the grandstands.

 Maryland Racing Commission members John P. McDaniel (left) and Louis J. Ulman (right) listen to chairman John B. Franzone at the board’s meeting Tuesday at Laurel Park.The issue came up at the Maryland Racing Commission’s first public meeting since the Washington Post announced in December it was dropping its regular coverage of horse racing at Laurel and Pimlico racetracks.

“We’re doomed to fail over time,” commission member John McDaniel said at the meeting, which was held at Laurel Park. “We see every other sport being covered and we’ll do whatever we can politically to launch a frontal attack with The [Baltimore] Sun and The Post, but we need to find a way to allocate some money for publicity. Nobody’s going to go to Laurel if it’s not in the paper and they don’t see some enticement to be there.”

McDaniel also said the decline in racing’s popularity in Maryland can’t be solved solely with bigger purses from slots revenue.

“This isn’t just about slots,” he said. “The long-term problem is trying to reinvigorate and get people talking about this sport.”

Chairman John B. Franzone echoed the concern, saying he has spoken with the Maryland Jockey Club about designating a portion of its slots revenue for marketing if the organization is granted a license to build and operate video lottery terminals. The jockey club, which is owned by Ontario-based Magna Entertainment Corp., submitted an application Monday to operate 4,750 slots machines at Laurel Park.

Franzone also suggested...

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