I found recent press release from AtlanticCity.com interesting on several levels. In it, the cooperative site that serves all the prominent hotels was bemoaning the fact they again might have to prop up a dying industry.

In 2004, the hotels struck a four-year deal with the New Jersey tracks; Monmouth, Freehold and The Meadowlands, paying them a combined $84 million if the racetracks agreed not to pursue VLTs.

As 2008 approaches and with VLTs still not approved, the struggling tracks want a bigger slice of that AC pie. The hotels are not interested in either subsidizing the tracks or allowing VLTs.

VLTs would hurt casino revenues, undermine Atlantic Citys growth, and jeopardize hundreds of millions in revenue that goes to the state.

Whoa!

While Im sure VLTs would impact casino revenues, I dont know what kind of growth they refer to unless it means building more hotels. When the hotels got a franchise to conduct gambling in the moribund city, they promised jobs and revitalization. Venture a couple of blocks west of the boardwalk. Where is all the building, wheres all the growth? Cant blame that on the tracks.

As far as the revenue that goes to New Jersey, are casino dollars worth more than racetrack dollars? Money is money, from whatever source. Am I missing something?

Maybe Atlantic City growth has stalled because VLTs are now in virtually every surrounding state.

And can slots players, an older demographic that doesnt skew upscale, really afford $3-a-gallon gas to get there, much less spend, on average, over $200 for weekday rooms and more than $400 on weekends? Is the food free? Are the shows free? Do slot players break the comp bank?

Maybe if Atlantic City hotels lowered their rates and offered better entertainment choices they might be able to better compete with Las Vegas. With more and cheaper choices available in Nevada, the cost of a plane ticket turns out to be a wash. And is there really a comparison between the two?

Horserace wagering is flat, yes. But racing still handles $15 billion annually. The Triple Crown tracks attracted a combined quarter of a million people to see a classic live.

The racing industry hurting? Positively. Can it do better? Absolutely. But dying? Those reports are greatly exaggerated at least. At best, theyre patented false.