Editor's Note: The following is a press release sent by New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC in response to a press release sent by Joseph A. Faraldo, an attorney and president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, representing the over 1,000 owners, trainers and drivers regularly competing at Yonkers Raceway, New York. The views contained in this press release are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of the United States Trotting Association.
While it is unfortunate that Mr. Faraldo has targeted The Meadowlands in another public outburst that would have been better left to a private discussion, due to the vast inaccuracies in his “editorial,” The Meadowlands Racetrack feels compelled to respond.
Yes, The Meadowlands Racetrack, like many other racetracks with larger-sized pools has players that bet through a computer-assisted wagering system. The notion that these players are a “cartel” is erroneous. Contrary to Mr. Faraldo’s beliefs, The Meadowlands Racetrack has not been made any guarantees from a wagering prospective by these players.
For full disclosure, prior to the start of our meet, The Meadowlands has amended an existing simulcast agreement with one of our present customers which would likely result in their increased wagering. We did this mainly to see if by their added handle it would encourage others to wager into the larger pools. To protect ourselves and our customers that if there was a problem, we intentionally added a clause that would allow us to cancel the agreement on three days-notice. Fortunately the results are better than expected. That increase has been nearly $7 Million, or 29-percent of our overall handle increase. However, there has been additional 71 percent in increases from other sources, just as we had hoped. Therefore, the idea that these bettors are creating “the illusion of beneficial revenue” is false.
The simple truth is these players bet more than the average customer, thus receive a larger rebate. This is a concept that has existed since the opening of casinos in this country. A $1,000 per hand blackjack player is going to receive a larger rebate than a $10 per hand player.
The allegation that New Jersey horsemen are not seeing “beneficial revenue” is also false. By the end of this racing season, the S.B.O.A.N.J. will receive additional revenue well into six-figures directly from these larger players. The agreement was made with the full support of the S.B.O.A.N.J. and it’s leader, Tom Luchento had this to say:
““The Meadowlands Racetrack and the SBOANJ have an outstanding relationship. We support each other in everything we do. The Meadowlands Racetrack is an industry leader in moving this sport in the right direction and utilizing new ideas to make The Meadowlands successful. The idea that the management at The Meadowlands and Jeff Gural would ever do something that would harm the horsemen of New Jersey is utterly ridiculous and offensive to both The Meadowlands and the horsemen of New Jersey.”
Mr. Faraldo also questions the revenue earned by The Meadowlands on these bettors in relation to the purse account. For full disclosure, The Meadowlands has carried an overpayment into the purse account for 2013 of nearly $300,000. Thanks to our game plan for 2013, we are on track to wipe out that overpayment by years-end. It is impossible to raise purses until it is proven that we will continue to have full fields since the Pennsylvania tracks have opened and a total handle that continues to perform at the same consistent level it has all year.
Furthermore, the allegation that The Meadowlands is misleading its investors and “playing them for more support” is both erroneous and defamatory. The Meadowlands Racetrack is in constant communication with our investors as they are given daily updates of how our business is doing. They have been extremely pleased with the progress we have made in 2013 at both The Meadowlands Racetrack and Winners Bayonne.
It comes as quite a shock that Mr. Faraldo would grow “tiresome” of reading about The Meadowlands success. The national handle figures published on the USTA website, show an increase of over $50 Million in industry-wide betting handle in 2013. The Meadowlands Racetrack is responsible for 45 percent of that increase. Thus, The Meadowlands is literally driving the industry in the right direction. But rather than supporting The Meadowlands, since the industry is clearly so dependent upon its success, he tries to tear it down. This is one of the major problems within our industry today.
In his editorial, Mr. Faraldo touches upon the subject of integrity. With all due respect, no racetrack in this sport has done more to promote integrity than The Meadowlands. No person in this sport has done more to promote integrity than Jeff Gural. When a trainer is suspended, The Meadowlands does not allow that trainers horses to be raced under an “assistants” name for the duration of that suspension. We believe our customers appreciate the stand we have taken in this regard and it is reflected in our handle.
Additionally, Mr. Faraldo cites two examples that could represent the danger of these larger players and the potential for pool manipulation. Let’s put this to rest right now. Neither of his two examples have anything to do with larger computer-assisted wagers. The individual that wagers $2,000 to win on multiple horses does so at a simulcast facility at a teller window. Furthermore, the $2,000 win bets are never cancelled, so where is the pool manipulation? The daily double made reference to was also predominantly due to an individual who placed a large daily double wager at The Meadowlands. After looking into the wager, there was nothing suspicious or “manipulative” about the wager. Neither incident stemmed from large computer bettors at all.
We apologize that this editorial required a public response and we hope to have clarified the issues raised by Mr. Faraldo to our betting customers as they are what matters the most to us. Lastly, if Mr. Faraldo took issue with a business decision The Meadowlands Racetrack made, he should have contacted us privately and professionally. Quite frankly, his concerns should focus on the standardbred horsemen of New York and he should leave The Meadowlands to us. After all, despite boasting large purses thanks to an approximate $50 Million casino-subsidized purse account, The Meadowlands consistently handles five times more wagering dollars than Yonkers on Saturday night. This is because large purses alone do not make for a great betting product. However, the integrity-driven, quality racing that The Meadowlands presents does make for that great betting product.