12/14/2012 4:10PM

Presque Isle Downs changes racing schedule


Presque Isle Downs, the racetrack-casino in Erie, Penn., will race on a Sunday through Thursday schedule during its 100-day meet next year to boost the track’s exposure in the simulcast market.

In making the change, Presque Isle will drop Fridays and Saturdays from its live racing schedule for the first time since opening in 2007. Though popular with on-track fans, Friday and Saturday cards face more competition in the simulcast market, while Mondays and Tuesday are far less crowded on the simulcast menu.

The move to drop Friday and Saturday cards is occurring against a backdrop in which the parent companies of many casino-subsidized racing operations are increasingly becoming focused on minimizing losses from live racing operations. As a result, many tracks are shifting post times and live race dates in order to drive up the visibility of their simulcast product, which produces up to 95 percent of the betting revenue for tracks with small local fan bases.

For example, earlier this week, the big casino operator Penn National Gaming announced that, beginning Dec. 26, three of its tracks would coordinate their night-time post times so that the races are held at least five minutes apart from each other. The three tracks are Penn National in Pennsylvania, Charles Town Races in West Virginia, and San Houston Race Park in Houston.

Post time for each race card will be 5:25 p.m. Eastern. The 2013 race meet will run from May 12 to Sept. 26.