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Showing posts from January, 2010

It's Not Just Racing That's Suffering

Interesting figures from Poker News Daily on the decline in revenue for Atlantic City casinos in 2009. Overall casino "gross win" (what bettors pay, less what the casinos return to the bettors) was down 13.2% from 2008, coming in at $3.9 billion. The drop was spread pretty much equally between slot machines (down 13.1%) and table games (down 13.5%). The slots, by the way, account for roughly two-thirds of Atlantic City casino revenues.
The official explanation, fromCasino Control Commission Chair Linda Kassekert, was pretty much what one would expect. Kassekert blamed the weak national economy, growing competition from casinos in neighboring states, and the partial ban on smoking in New Jersey casinos.As for the last of those, all I can say is that it's nice to be able to breathe in a poker room.
Compare to the Atlantic City figures, the recently released numbers for thoroughbred betting handle nationally and for the New York Racing Association (NYRA) don't look quite…

SF Sketchfest!

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SF Sketchfest is underway, and that means soon The Business will be too! Our two Sketchfest shows are this week: Thursday the 21st and Friday the 22nd! Thursday will most resemble a normal Business show, and Friday will find us sharing the bill with some lovely out of town sketch groups who will not disappoint.

That being said, Thursday will also mark the return of Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits to The Business, and possibly some fantastic drop-in guests. If you came to our New Year's Eve Eve show, you know we were joined by Moshe Kasher and Todd Barry, and it was a hell of a show. You can get tickets here:

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/92762

BONUS:

If you come to one of our Sketchfest shows, we will give you a coupon for FREE admission* to another Business show! You can't lose!

*Fine Print:
Free admission coupon redeemable to any normal Business show happening in February 2010 or beyond. Not applicable to either of our Sketchfest shows. Normal Business …

A Wish List for Maryland Racing

Now that Frank Stronach has made a deal with Magna Entertainment's unsecured creditors, it's almost possible to start dreaming of a post-Stronach world, apart from Gulfstream and Santa Anita. While the Magna bankruptcy settlement is not quite a done deal yet -- the minority shareholders in Frank's captive company, MI Developments, not to mention the bankruptcy judge in Delaware, may yet have something to say about it -- and while I wouldn't put it past Frank to come up with a last-minute bid of his own to hang onto Laurel and Pimlico, there is a dim flashlight beam barely visible at the end of a very long tunnel.
So, in the spirit of some other visionary bloggers, let's dream a little about what could be done if somebody who actually cares about racing (i.e., Jeff Seder's Blow Horn Equity) somehow manages to win the auction, set for January 21st, for the Maryland Jockey Club properties.
(As far as I can tell, from the very limited public information available, no…

Surprise: Good Guys Are Maryland Stalking Horse

I've learned on good authority that Blow Horn Equity LLC has emerged as the "stalking horse" bidder for the Maryland Jockey Club properties (Laurel, Pimlico and the Bowie training center) that will be sold at auction in bankruptcy court on January 21st. Frankly, that's the best possible news for Maryland racing, though it may not be enough to overcome the obstacles to success that Maryland politicians, Frank Stronach and the De Francis family have created through their collective mismanagement.

A "stalking horse" bid in this sort of auction is one that the seller -- in the case Magna Entertainment -- is committed to accepting, unless someone else shows up with a better offer at the time of the auction. The fact that Magna has accepted the Blow Horn bid at least averts the threat that Stronach himself would cobble together a bid at the last minute to try to hold on to Laurel and Pimlico.

As I reported earlier, Blow Horn, headed by Jeff Seder of EQB, Inc., is t…

Pity the Poor Trainer

The New York Racing Association (NYRA) cancelled racing today, because of very cold temperatures and high winds. No disagreement with that decision; I was at the barn area at Belmont this morning, and it was way too cold to be out in the open on a horse. Some trainers did send their horses to the training track, much to the discomfort of the exercise riders, but many chose just to jog them in the shedrow, away from the wind. Even that wasn't exactly a day at the beach.
But what's incomprehensible about the decision is that it was only announced after 7 am, AFTER trainers had to send their horses for the early scheduled races over from Belmont to Aqueduct in the NYRA van for the horses' mandatory six-hour stay in the detention barn. Every trainer who had horses in the first few races today therefore had to load those horses onto the van, send a groom with them, and then wait around until van, horse and groom returned, after the cancellation was made official.
For many trai…

THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OF JOURNALISM PROFESSIONALISM

Efforts to professionalize journalism began early in the twentieth century as a response to the hyper commercialization of newspapers and the “anything goes” approach to news that emerged in the late nineteenth century as a means of increasing street sales through sensationalism, twisting the truth, and outright lies.

The impetus for journalistic professionalism originated among publishers who wish to counter the trend and it gained support of journalists who saw it as a means of improving their working conditions and social standing. Journalism training and higher education programs, professional societies for journalists and editors, and codes of ethics and conduct emerged as part of professionalism. These promoted the core values of accuracy, fairness, completeness, and the pursuit of truth.

These efforts improved industry practices, pushed out the worst journalists and publishers, and creating some trust in the content of news. They also created environments in which advertisers we…