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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

I’M CAUGHT BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HOT SPRING, WHAT DO DO?

When I first read the headline “Oaklawn to Reopen Casino on Monday, May 18,” I was horrified.

Readers might recall that we were all over Oaklawn Park during their race meet because all but a very few handlers were with face coverings in the close confines of the stabling paddock, with no serious attempts made at social distancing despite strong urging from the Arkansas Department of Health to do so in confined public spaces.

I read further, and no am I appalled. But shouldn’t I feel guilty about that?

I find it incredulous that the country’s politics are so divisive that a state like Arkansas can be so cavalier about not taking common sense health restrictions very seriously when in California, with a hot spot in Los Angeles, this safe-shelter mandate will remain in place until August.

It’s ironic that I should learn about the LA extension on the day Santa Anita published an overnight for Friday and will be allowed to race spectatorless that same day.

And you know SoCal horsemen are anxious to rock n’ roll when 97 horses, including also-eligibles, were entered in nine races. There were times in the not too distance past when that number would translate into two days of eight-race programs.

Meanwhile, back in Hot Springs, where purses are buoyed by casino dollars spent on the grounds of the racetrack, how can such a close-quartered space such as a casino be opened up again?

Then, after reading more, I will posit this: If the entire horse industry handled in-house racing issues with the same thoughtfulness that tracks have given getting back into operation, the game would be in a much healthier place. Here are the provisions for the casino reopening:

·         Hours in operation will be shortened.

·         The casino will operate at 33% capacity.

·         There will be only be one entrance in use.

          Required temperature tests (100 degrees or less) to gain admission.

·         Customers must show ID upon entering for possible contact-tracing.

·         As with temperatures, customers and staff must wear masks at all times.

·         Available shuttle service continues but with limited occupancy.

·         Only every other slot machine will be open to ensure social distancing.

·         Blackjack games limited to every other seat, no more than three players per table.

·         Craps are limited to three players per side of each table.

·         Live roulette will not be available upon reopening.

·         Smoking will not be allowed anywhere inside the building.

·        The facility has been deep cleaned in all areas.

·         Frequency of cleaning all public areas will be increased during the day.

·         The casino will be electrostatically disinfected nightly upon closing.

·         Additional hand sanitizing stations will be in place throughout the facility.

·         Signage regarding all health measures will be increased.

·         Social distancing rules will be enforced.

·         Menus will be disposable for one-time use.

·         Condiments to be offered in single use packets.

Additionally, the Race & Sports Book will remain closed, there will be no simulcasting, promotional events, or live entertainment upon reopening.

If I had any interest in casino gambling, I might, might, be willing, so to speak, to roll the dice under these circumstances. Or as least go inside and take a look. Would you?

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10 Responses

  1. I would go inside to see if they had a food court with an Artichokes Pizza. Resorts World had one but it is now gone. Same with Wolfgang Puck. But no, I wouldn’t go inside to play the one armed bandits or other games. When I was fifteen I played a slot in downtown Las Vegas and hit. An alarm went off to signal a casino employee to come over. Since I was underage and should not have been at the machine to begin with I looked to my father for help. I asked him to say he had played the slot but he said no. I asked him why not. He said to do so would be lying. No big deal, only fifty bucks. It was at one of those casinos that opened up onto the sidewalk outside. Fake out on me.

  2. Mal, bad circumstances but props to your dad for teaching a lesson on right vs. wrong. Good on him.

    I’m sure the casino had little problem with a 15-year-old feeding the machine until he ran out of quarters …

  3. I couldn’t believe it at the time but I guess it was the right call, ha, ha. LV has changed a lot since then. Kinda miss the old Vegas.

    1. C,

      It’s like Lou Pascal said, in the movie “Atlantic City,” lamenting today’s “McDonald’s Casinos” and “Burger King Casinos” before entering one with Susan Sarandon on his arm on the Boardwalk, he looks wistfully out over the Atlantic and says, “you should have seen the ocean in those days…”

  4. Sid Caesar scene in Vegas Vacation really funny when he is playing KENO inside a casino and Chevy Chase sits next to him with his last money. Sid tells him how he comes there every day but rarely wins. Then, at the end of the movie, Sid hits all his numbers and is a big winner (I won, I won, I won!) but in the excitement he passes away right at his seat. The ticket falls on the floor and the attendant comes along with a vacuum cleaner. Just as she is about to vacuum the ticket Chevy sticks his foot out and pulls it in. The trip to Vegas is paid for.

    1. Will have to catch up on the movie, Sid Caesar was a comic genius and the plot you describe sounds like the ultimate “bad beat” story. But on the bright side, maybe all losers go to heaven when they die??

      1. You’ll enjoy watching Sid Caesar’s facial expressions when he sees that he has all the numbers. Priceless. You’re right, he was the greatest. The bad beat in The Sting when Robert Shaw loses a tight photo was also great. Not comparing Vegas Vacation to The Sting but you get the idea.

  5. It’s worth watching. At end of movie. Sid Caesar facial expressions are great, “I won, I won?, I won.” KENO a tough game so it’s understandable he would be surprised.

  6. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who had been conducting a little research on this. And he actually ordered me lunch simply because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this topic here on your web site.

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