As we should expect by now, income from live racing continues to stagnate, if not decline, while revenue from gaming -- notably, the new casino at the Fair Grounds -- and from the Twin Spires internet wagering site continues to grow.
Net revenue from racing operations for the quarter was actually up fractionally, from $38.835 million last year to $38.984 million this year, even though Churchill's parimutuel handle dropped by 6%. Still, that's better than the 9% decline reported by Equibase for handle nationwide in the first quarter.
But the significant increases were in net revenue from online operations, up from 14.144 million last year to $16.650 million this year, and, especially, in gaming revenue, now that the permanent slot facility at the Fair Grounds is up and running. That segment increased from $12.474 million in net revenue on the frist quarter of 2008 to $17.875 million this year.
So the corporate types at Churchill seem to have the numbers to validate their long-term strategy of focusing growth away from the race track. And that probably means continued tension between Churchill and the horsemen who race at its tracks. Unless Churchill is willing to share its Twin Spires revenues with horsemen in the same proportions as it shares on-track betting money -- as the New York Racing Association does with betting handle on its NYRA Rewards site -- the corporate suits will continue to favor the online business over live racing, and the horsemen will continue, rightly, to feel taken advantage of.