Filling the void

I’ve heard a number of reasons why we “need” video lottery terminals at horse racing tracks, but this one, espoused by Texas Racing Commission Chair Rolando Pablos, may be the most entertaining.

Though he does not gamble, Pablos studied gaming models during postgraduate studies at UH. He continues to study them. He perceives one disconnect with many horse race spectators — idle time between races. He understands that some spectators enjoy partying between races. Others bury themselves in handicapping the next race. Still, he contends, there’s “a void.”

“Horse racing needs to get more creative,” he said. “We see examples of creativity, like at Sam Houston Race Park with its programs and concerts. But revenue from horse racing is still declining. We need even more creativity.”

At Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico tracks, Pablos noted, “People run to the slot machines between races. That (electronic gaming) model works well for our neighboring states. We don’t know if it will work here.”

Well, that is creative. Maybe they can adapt a line from the Weird Al Yankovic song “Horoscope” as their motto: “Fill that void in your pathetic life by playing VLTs seventeen hours a day”. I’ve not been to a horse racing track in years, so I can’t say if this “void” of which he speaks really exists. I do know that many other sports seem to manage their breaks in the action without the need for VLTs, so I trust you’ll pardon my skepticism here. The real question is whether or not allowing VLTs actually would be a net plus for Texas’ bottom line. Remember, the racetracks themselves were once supposed to be a financial windfall for Texas. Filling voids isn’t really a concern to me.

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