BUSINESS

Betfair Hollywood Park Closes After 75-Years of High Class Racing

TAGs: Betfair, Betfair Hollywood Park, British Greyhound Racing Fund, Churchill Downs Inc, Greyhound Board of Great Britain, Lee Davy

betfair-hollywood-park-closeBetfair Hollywood Park closes its doors after 75-years of thoroughbred racing, after Bay Meadows Land Company lose patience with stifling gambling expansion plans; and the GBGB blame Betfair for a reduced budget in the UK Greyhound scene.

Betfair Hollywood Park has become another casualty of the United States refusal to pull a regulated form of gambling into its bosom, that seems to provide jobs and incomes for millions of people around the world, without a maelstrom of death and mayhem running riot on the streets.

The racetrack that was originally opened in 1938 by Harry and Jack Warner of Warner Bros is to be closed and demolished in order to make way for real estate developments, after the owners finally lost patience with their battle for gambling expansion in the state.

The venue passed from owner to owner until in 2005 Churchill Downs Inc., growing impatient with the lack of movement towards more liberal gambling laws, sold the racetrack to the real-estate company Bay Meadows Land Company for a decent profit.

Initially, the plans of Bay Meadows Land Company were no different than those of Churchill Downs Inc., and that was to expand the racetrack experience through the introduction of other forms of gambling; more notably the introduction of slot machines.

It seems the sands of patience has finally run out.

The 238 acres of land on which the track is located is a prime piece of real estate with easy access to the nearby LAX airport and the city’s ports. If you couple the increase in real-estate values, with the lack of movement in the gambling regulations, and falling profits at the racetrack itself, then it all seems a no brainer.

“From an economic point of view, the land now simply has a higher and better use, so, unfortunately, racing will not continue here once the 2013 autumn meet is completed,” said the track’s president, Jack Liebau, when finally announcing the closing earlier this year.

The demise of the track may have started back in 2004 when an industry-drafted referendum was created, stating that if a single Native American casino refused to contribute 25% of their gambling revenues within 90-days of the referendum passing, then racetracks such as Betfair Hollywood Park would be allowed to open as many as 30,000 slot machines.

That referendum never passed as 84% of voters turned against the idea, but the damage was done as the racing industry came out of the whole debacle looking like a sleazy and vindictive son of a gun. This is when Churchill Downs Inc. sold their lot to the current owners in a deal worth $260m.

Now after 75-years of some of the best thoroughbred racing in the country, Betfair Hollywood Park is to close for good, as it becomes the second California racetrack to do so after Bay Meadows closed down after 74 years in operation.

The site will now be turned into a housing and retail development center.

The GBGB Aim Their Ire at Betfair

Moving away from Betfair related horse racing news, and onto Betfair inspired anger in the UK greyhound industry, as the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) has accused the exchange of being the prime reason behind forced spending cuts in the UK greyhound business.

Barry Faulkner, chief executive of the GBGB, said: “This is the result of the ‘Betfair effect’ – the cessation of contributions from them. It’s made life very difficult, and there are no guarantees either – the new budget has no safety net.”

Tom Kelly, chairman of the BGRF, added: “We’re disappointed, especially as the cuts affect greyhound racing in a way that seems all the more unfortunate given the sport remains an important part of Betfair’s business.”

Cuts have been made across a broad spectrum of areas following a 7.4% fall in the 2014 British Greyhound Racing Fund Budget. Betfair reduced their annual payments to the GBGB after complaining that not all bookmakers were paying the same sorts of contributions that they were.

Kelly added: “The key difference is other major firms contribute to putting on the product through Bags and also support the Fund, whereas Betfair pay absolutely nothing. I know it concerns the All Party Parliamentary Greyhound Group, and they have asked Betfair to appear before them, but as yet Betfair have not been able to do so.”

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