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California Wagering Fairgrounds Losing to Casinos

3 January 2005

DEL MAR, California – As reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune: "A once-promising moneymaker for the state is losing its luster.

"When it opened in September 1991, the Surfside Race Place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds was supposed to be the model for all the satellite wagering facilities at California's state-owned fairgrounds.

"Fourteen years later, attendance and money wagered are down by nearly half, and the decline is expected to continue as Indian casinos in this county expand and flourish and the customer base ages.

"California has 33 satellite wagering places, 23 of them on fairgrounds from Del Mar to Eureka. Business at all of them has declined 7 percent to 10 percent a year during the past decade, said Mike Knapp, Surfside's general manager.

"They continue to make money, though, and there has been no talk of closing the facilities, said Michael Treacy, director of the Division of Fairs and Expositions at the Department of Food and Agriculture, which oversees the state's fairgrounds.

"…Surfside remains the leader among state fairgrounds wagering facilities, but Knapp predicted that attendance and handle for 2004 will be down an additional 10 percent, and he expects the decline to continue for several years.

"Indian casinos aren't the only ones being blamed for the decline in Del Mar and statewide. Online wagering via home computers is cutting into business, and fewer of the aging off-track betting crowd are visiting, Knapp said…"

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