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Old 12-07-2005, 04:29 PM
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Default ARTICLE: Weil urges industry to look to sports betting, distribution

Weil urges industry to look to sports betting, distribution
Posted: 12/6/2005 3:58:00 PM

Lorne Weil, chief executive officer of Scientific Games Corp., urged industry officials not to view racinos and improved technology as possible saviors but instead to explore legalized sports betting, more widespread distribution, and improved content as a way to grow the racing industry. Speaking during the keynote luncheon on the opening day of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Programís Symposium on Racing and Gaming on Tuesday in Tucson, Weil said the racing industry should be careful not to look to the casino industry too much for advice on how to run its business. Weil repeatedly warned that racinos will not be the best long-term solution to aid a declining bottom line.
"I donít think the racino is the salvation of the industry that some people feel it is," Weil said, citing an example that the casino industry often will invest $1-billion into its core business only to realize no positive cash flow in the end. "The idea that you have to invest $1-billion to break even is not a lesson the racing industry needs to follow."

Weil went on to echo similar comments made during last yearís keynote address by Churchill Downs Inc. President Tom Meeker, who said racing needs to look beyond enhanced technology as a way to improve.

"I agree with what Tom said in that technology provides a solid foundation and is important for the health of the racing industry," Weil said. "Technology is very, very important to us, believe me. We are very committed to supporting technology, but I donít think technology is any more of a savior than the racino is a savior of the racing industry. Technology is an enabler of growth but in itself is by no means a driver of growth."

Weil said one of the ways racing can help itself is by possibly exploring the idea of offering legalized sports betting, which has enjoyed steady growth and has attracted approximately four times as much handle as racing in Las Vegas, where it is legal.

A more widespread distribution, such as in France and England where betting on racing is frequently offered at free-standing terminals in restaurants and bars, is another outlet the racing industry needs to explore for growth, Weil said.

"This is a pet issue of mine Ö distribution," Weil said. "In the United States there are at least 100,000 places to buy lottery tickets, but well under 1,000 where you can bet on a horse race. One reason why the lottery business outgrows racing is there are 99,000 more locations where you can buy it."

Weil concluded his remarks by telling the audience that new content was vitally important and that "content is king."

"If there is no new content, we can scream 'Go Baby Go' until our faces turn blue, but by the time we're done, there will be no one there to scream it to, because without new content there won't be new customers," Weil said.óTom Law

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