Racing Community See Hope as Casino, Bangor Raceway Reopens

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Harness racing at Bass Park will resume soon following the reopening of Hollywood Casino and Raceway. Mike Cushing, Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association president, revealed that the reopening will happen soon after important details like coronavirus protocols are finalized.

The reopening of Bangor Raceway was rushed after the full-time harness track, Scarborough Downs, shutdown on Friday due to financial constraints caused by the pandemic. Cushing said the racetrack in Scarborough held races since early June without spectators and they plan to shut down until Sept. 6.

Many gambling facilities like casinos and racetracks took heavy damage in revenue because of the pandemic. Gambling facilities in the country shut down operations in mid-March because of the novel coronavirus. Racetracks revenue fell unprecedentedly because of the lockdowns.

Bangor sees challenges ahead

Mr Cushing said they are desperate to bring its operations online and in maintaining the health of their horses. He added that they find it hard to have down time from July 10 through Sept. 6 but they are optimistic, despite challenges, that they can operate the Bangor Raceway soon.

The operator mentioned that the coronavirus testing center located in the Brass Park complex poses as an obstacle on the operation. However, Mr Cushing said officials of the testing center said they can co-exist with the raceway’s operation.

Mr Cushing expects issues about the future of racing in Maine in the coming summer and fall will be discussed at the Maine Harness Racing Commission on Thursday. The regulating body could allow the racetrack to operate as soon as the coronavirus protocols are in place.

Mr Cushing was hopeful with the reopening when Massachusetts’ Plainridge Park Casino resumed business in July 8 followed by its harness race track this week. Horse trainer and owners were hopeful when they heard the news that racing will soon start in the venue. Heath Campbell, a horse trainer and driver, said the opening of the Bangor Casino is great news for them but nobody informed them of the start of the cases.

Owners might sell horses if shutdown continues

Campbell said the part that hurts them the most is the uncertainty of when racing will be scheduled. He added that they need to fed and train their horses but, if there isn’t any income, they might sell the horses.

The horse trainer said sending horses to the Plainville track could add expenses to the owners since higher-caliber horses run in the track. Owners needed to spend more money in spending a racing team to Plainville without the guarantee of winning.

Many racetracks remained closed as the novel coronavirus continue. Racetracks needed speculators and wagers to collect revenue.  They rely on bets placed by spectators during race events. The novel coronavirus halted the operations of establishments that gather large number of people like sporting events, casinos and race tracks. These establishments have high risk of transmission of the deadly virus.

Racetracks could schedule the racing events but it is not yet sure that people will rush back to the venues during the reopening.

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