This article reminds me a bit of what happened when Las Vegas decided it would become a family destination. Still, Arlington is a beautiful facility, and maybe the kiddies can have fun while the grownups handicap and bet…
Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Ill., is open, the Triple Crown is in full swing, and all is well in the world of thoroughbred horse racing.
Oh, maybe not everything. Racing is in survival mode in many parts of the country, including the Chicago area, where competition from the casino gaming industry continues to erode the wide-spread popularity the sport once enjoyed.
It is during this special season that horse racing’s place in the state-regulated gambling mix comes into focus, and there’s no better time to examine it than through Arlington, which will host a 91-day meeting that runs through Sept. 26.
Arlington, perhaps the last palatial structure dedicated solely to horse racing that will ever be built, exemplifies the one decided advantage that horse racing enjoys over casino gambling: Entertainment that the entire family can enjoy together.
Whereas Las Vegas failed in its marketing campaign as a family vacation destination, horse racing is uniquely equipped to appeal to everyone, even children, in spite of the fact it is entertainment funded by the gambling component.
Arlington not only welcomes family participation, the track encourages it by planning a number of season-long promotions including Family Days, which will be held every Sunday May 24 through Sept. 6, and the Junior Jockey Club for children 12 and under on select Sundays starting June 6.
Horse racing isn’t a game, it’s a sport. And unlike other sports upon which billions of dollars are wagered illegally every year, it is a perfectly legitimate gambling activity in which knowledge comes firmly into play.
There’s nothing in the gaming industry that comes close (with the possible exception of live poker) to offering a skill-based activity upon which you can wager.
Unlike casinos, which offer house-banked games and mathematically programmed electronic gaming devices to generate revenue, betting on horse races is pari-mutuel (wagering among ourselves).
A set percentage of the money that is wagered on horse races is extracted for taxes and expenses, while the rest is distributed to bettors in the form of winnings.
The gambling aspect aside, there is lore and history associated with the sport, best personified in the movie “Seabiscuit”, and in a forthcoming feature film that will chronicle the career of mighty Secretariat, America’s beloved 1973 Triple Crown champion.
Beautiful and immaculately conditioned thoroughbreds, teamed with jockeys who, pound-for-pound, are among the best athletes in the world, are the center of attention in horse racing. It’s a combination that is appealing even outside the scope of gambling.
The award-winning series “Jockeys”, which can be seen on the cable network Animal Planet, opened the eyes of a broad audience to the complex and fascinating world of horse racing.