For the third time in the last four years, another Michigan racetrack is closing up shop.
This time the fallen party is Jackson Harness Raceway in the southern part of the state.
MTR Gaming Group Inc., the track’s majority owner, announced Thursday that the Jackson racetrack would cease all simulcast wagering at the facility and would not schedule live dates for 2009.
The group also owns Mountaineer Racetrack and Casino in West Virginia and Presque Isle Downs in Pennsylvania – both of which are racinos. MTR Gaming has been trying to do the same at Jackson since purchasing the track in 2005, but it never came about. The group has lost at least $3.6 million connected to the track over the last three years.
JHR continues the trend of Michigan racetracks going dark for good over the last decade. In 1998, Detroit Race Course flatlined and was subsequently flattened by the wrecking ball. Saginaw Harness Raceway closed down in 2005 followed by Great Lakes Downs in 2007.
I’m not going to go into a long spiel about the state’s failure to support the racing industry, but one has to wonder how much blood has to be on the hands of the Michigan state government before they realize their patient is bleeding to death. I’m not saying slots or advance deposit wagering are the be-all end-all answer to the industry’s problems, but when three of state’s tracks shut down in four years, someone in Lansing has to realize something has to be done.
This apathy can not be allowed to continue if horse racing is to have any hope for long-term survival in the state of Michigan.