12/05/2016 4:34PM

Racing and gaming symposium opens Tuesday in Arizona

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TUCSON, Ariz. – The annual University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program Symposium on Racing and Gaming opens on Tuesday in Tucson with a decidedly utilitarian bent.

The symposium, which in its heyday once stretched over four days and drew nearly 1,000 attendees, will take place over two days this year, the same number of days as last year, when the schedule was reduced by half a day. Presentations are scheduled chock-a-block from 8:30 a.m. each day until 5 p.m., and most of the panel subjects this year appear geared toward middle managers rather than industry movers and shakers.

Topics over the first day include “Racing’s Identity Crisis,” which will explore different strategies for how racing can market itself. That panel will have somewhat complementary presentations later in the morning, when officials from outside marketing companies discuss in-depth customer-service strategies and how to use data to connect with customers.

Tuesday afternoon’s topics include “Bridging the Horseracing-Academic Divide,” about efforts to bring university-level analysis to racing’s problems. The Tuesday session will wrap up with a discussion on whether the partnership between racing and casino gambling in many states will be jeopardized in the near future, a topic that has risen in importance since an unsuccessful effort last year in Florida that would have allowed parimutuel facilities to drop their racing operations while retaining their casino licenses. [For a look at the decoupling issue, go here: http://www.drf.com/news/decoupling-racings-doorstep ]

Wednesday’s session will open with panelists discussing potential racing “innovation,” and several topics of the day will dovetail with that discussion. An afternoon panel will feature representatives of a company that has launched parimutuel sports wagering in Nevada, and another afternoon panel will feature racetrack officials discussing their experiences with tweaking takeout rates and wagering menus.
Wednesday’s topics also include animal rights, an issue that the symposium has not tackled head-on in some time. The panel, called “The Animal Rights Agenda: An Issue That Can No Longer Be Ignored,” includes two panelists, both of whom are not aligned with the animal-rights movement.

For a complete agenda and list of speakers, go here: https://ua-rtip.org/symposium/conference-topics