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The Internet and the Racing Industry

On March 20, 1997 a Public Hearing was held to examine the role of the Internet in the dissemination of Gambling Information in New York State.  Senator William Larkin, Jr.  was the Chairman of the event and Senators Thomas W. Libous, Michael F. Nozzolio and Assemblyman Joseph Crowley listened to a variety of speakers to obtain their point of view on various issues related to this subject.  I was the last speaker and represented EduSelf Multimedia Publishers and Superior Gaming. I have transcript of this event.

Dr. Craig Fields, the Vice Chairman of the Alliance Gaming Corporation was among the speakers as well. Dr. Fields is considered the foremost expert on information technology and the Internet.  Dr. Fields was a past Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency which is probably rightfully credited with developing the technology of the Internet. The Internet was developed for military purposes from the late sixties to the middle eighties during the central period of the Cold War. It was designed to build a military communications technology that would be almost impossible to interrupt and almost impossible to monitor.  It was designed to be Russian-proof.  It is virtually impossible to regulate.

Dr. Fields went on to explain how difficult it is to monitor all gambling activities since information comes from anywhere and everywhere.  Every country, state, province and so on have their own laws, which of course further complicates Internet Regulation and taxation from a legal stand point.  If a person was sending a message from Paris to Marseilles, that message might travel to San Francisco or Hong Kong en route to it final destination. Even if laws were passed to attempt some sort of control, the robust nature of the Internet would make enforcement of such laws remarkably difficult to police.  There is even issues regarding what languages messages are sent in making translation an additional factor.

Dr. Fields went on to further advance the concept of licensing gambling organizations as a sort of government stamp of credibility. Dr. Fields went on to point out the necessity of the quality of expertise in the selection of personnel, rather then the quantity of people to be involved in dealing with electronic commerce.

Other speakers at this hearing included Timothy Carey, Chairman of the New York State Consumer Protection Board; Albe Angel of the Interactive Gaming Council; Mark Seber, Director of Corporate Services of the Capital Off-Track Betting and Peter Murphy of Vantage Technologies; Laura Letson, Executive Director of the New York Council on Problem Gambling; John Aiello, Executive Director of the New York Council of Charitable Organizations, and a few other experts.  As you can see many interests were represented.

Dennis Brida was a speaker and I assisted him with the preparation of his speech since he had limited understanding of computer technology.  Dennis at that time mentioned the attendance effects at the racetrack of off-track betting and the importance of competing for the entertainment/gambling dollar.  Dennis stated that anywhere gambling goes, racing must go also.  Additionally, Dennis wanted assurances that there would be some distribution to the racing and breeding industry in the advent of online gambling.  Today, the concerns of omission by the State of New York is once again an issue with Governor Pataki's recent proposal for exclusion for two years of revenue to horsemen from Video Lottery Terminals. 

Taking this opportunity to reflect back on my participation, I feel that I was very much in keeping with what the future did have in store for our industry.  I stated that the vision of the size, scope and growth of the Internet was not expressed adequately to the Council.  I explained that there would be at least 12,000,000 sites by the end of 1997.  I highlighted the development and proliferation of Cable Modems and high speed hook ups. I mentioned the growth of online shopping and the rapid expansion of wireless hand held computers. I mentioned the speed of technological growth and the computers of tomorrow. I mentioned the dangers of Internet hackers and the vulnerability of electronic systems.

I look back with pride on the quality and foresight of my contribution to this meeting.  Of course the vulnerability of electronic systems reached its apex with the Breeders' Cup betting scandal.

Please feel free to contact me to share opinions and exchange idea of how we, as horsemen, can benefit from with this vital communication vehicle known to us all as the Internet.

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November 10, 2009 - Update

By January 1, 2010 there will be in excess of 200,000,000 websites on the Internet.  The are also various communication and interaction activities to include, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and a host of other internet related entries to also include YouTube and other video media outlets.  The growth of the Internet and its use surpasses the highest expectations of a decade ago. 

The growth of bandwidth and handheld devices is absolutely amazing. The amazing handheld services include Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) devices which even provide traffic reports, Television Shows, Photographic Video Capabilities and the ability to Email those personal videos and pictures, News and Sports and Music and Voice Transmission and the list seems to grow with each day to the services that are provided right in the palm of your hand from virtually most of the world.

These are amazing times and the changes are coming fast and furious.  In twenty years, the young people of that generation will wonder how we were able to exist with such primitive communication devices, just as we are amazed at how far we have come from 1990 to 2010.

For Thoroughbred Racing to remain viable, we desperately need to be on the cutting edge of progress as it arrives by being ready for it before our competitors are able to utilize the progress of communication and interaction.  I always point out the we need to avail ourselves of the best minds that are available to remain in the game.  And of course we need to start right away because, "The Time is Always Now."