Racing’s role with government and a crystal ball gaze into the year 2020 were the topics presented in a pair of panel discussions at the second session of the 2013 World Trotting Conference on Wednesday, June 12.
The remarks delivered by John Gallinger, president and CEO of Standardbred Canada, were filled with the lessons he said he learned during the changes that recently took place in the Ontario gaming industry.
“A provincial politician gave me some good advice,” Gallinger said. “'Make a friend before you need a friend,' meaning it’s best to develop a working relationship with elected leaders so that they know something about breeding and racing before you go to them asking for legislative or regulatory relief.
“It’s also best for an industry to speak with one voice and adopt a common message,” Gallinger added. “The lessons we learned are a key pillar to Canada’s strategic plan.”
Jean-Pierre Kratzert, president of Suisse Trot and the European Trotting Union, revealed plans for a European Horse Racing Federation that would seek to answer the call for European Union-wide regulation with an industry-inaugurated movement --- rather than having the European Parliament impose its own version of regulation.
“We need exchange (bets on races) for our common advantage, establish a ‘European wager’ and harmonize our rules for the benefit of punters (bettors). And, we need to refurbish and modernize the image of racing,” Kratzert said.
Revelations made by some of the members of the second panel seemed to presage a much different industry when 2020 arrives.
Philippe Germond, chairman of the PMU, France’s massive off-track betting corporation, indicated he felt it was realistic to raise the level of participation of the public in race wagering.
“Currently, 10 per cent of the public places at least one bet on a horse race each year, down from 13 per cent in years past, but our aim is to increase that number to 15 per cent,” Germond said.
Andrew Kelly, director of Harness Racing Australia, also revealed that his country has aggressively sought to import races, with most coming from North America.
“It’s a good way to offer more opportunities to our bettors and fills the hours between 7:00 a.m. and noon in our country, but we’re moving slowly so as not to dilute the product,” Kelly said.
“As it is now, there is only 30 seconds between televised races in Australia --- and that’s not enough time for fans to properly handicap every race.”
Marketing will be the topic on Thursday, with panel discussions devoted to the benefits of television and technology and the promotion of racing and racetracks.