CBC Radio is reporting this morning that Fraser Downs -- known for decades as Cloverdale Racetrack -- is in danger of losing its live horse racing events. (Pause while I suppress the urge to make a remark about dead horse racing ....... OK, that's passed ...)
It's been the home of the "wholesome trottin' race" for many, many years, and now it's owned by Great Canadian Casinos. A couple of years ago, Great Canadian installed slot machines at the track -- not satisfied with already having an enterprise where, as Bob Hope famously said, the windows clean the people -- and I seem to recall racing enthusiasts were solidly onside, saying the added attraction would "save" the industry.
I've written before both here and at "Rev. Downtown" about how I feel about gambling in general and the addiction to gaming revenue. I believe that, because it's an offence to God -- essentially, putting more trust in the random generation of numbers than in His provision; it also involves somebody losing, and I don't believe God would ordain something where someone loses -- money generated through that enterprise is not blessed. As I've pointed out elsewhere, charities and health-care systems receive a lot of money from gaming, and yet they're still crying poverty. With all the billions of dollars sucked into gaming coffers, wouldn't some of that poverty have been alleviated by now?
So it really shouldn't be a surprise that the horse racing industry is now worried that live racing at Fraser Downs is in danger, even with the installation of slot machines.
Interestingly, I recall the wailing and gnashing of teeth that occurred when tobacco companies were forbidden to sponsor sports events. The sports organizers were afraid that their events were going to die, and indeed, some of them did. Yet, a great many found new, less lethal, sponsors and are still going. The question is, do proponents of live horse racing have sufficient faith -- both in their sport and in God's willingness to bless it -- to wean themselves off gaming revenue?
One problem: the gaming company owns the track. This should be a cautionary note for anyone who enjoys thoroughbred racing at Hastings Park.
The other problem: any addiction is a genie that's incredibly hard to cram back into the bottle.