Magna president Jim McAlpine.

Magna president Jim McAlpine.

File photo

McAlpine: Industry Needs Change, Vision

Magna Entertainment Corp. president Jim McAlpine said the company is ready for change and part of that change includes forming more partnerships with other industry players to propel horseracing into the winner's circle.

"The industry must change and MEC as a major player must change," McApine said in an address Friday at the Symposium on Racing in Tucson, Ariz.

The initiative for change comes after MEC announced in November a $50.3 million third-quarter loss.

McAlpine's call for change echoed Churchill Downs president Tom Meeker's keynote speech earlier in the week when he called for a common vision and passion among industry leaders to move the industry forward.

"After a period of rapid expansion, we're committed to changing our fiscal trajectory and improving our profitability...our two main focuses are fiscal responsibility on one hand and partnering on the other," McAlpine said.

Also in line with Meeker's earlier comments, McAlpine said slots are not the answer to industry woes and have become an answer to state budget deficit problems.

"Slots are not the answer, but are absolutely part of the solution," he said.

McAlpine said the biggest impediment to the business is state-centric legislation and the "selfish, monopolizing local market mind set which is hurting us."

He said the role of the government should be to protect integrity of the game, ensure safety of the customers, but not to protect one industry from another.

McAlpine said other forms of gaming have overtaken horseracing because they have better improved facilities, marketing, and entertainment. He listed MEC responses to competition, including XpressBet, AmTote, the Magna 5 wager, and the Horse Wizard, to name a few.

"We'd be happy if others were doing these things too," he said. "We're happy to have competition. That's how you build a better business model."

McAlpine said MEC believes that what is good for the industry is good for MEC, and not the other way around, and called on audience members to be visionaries.

"Think about the vision and your part of that vision," McAlpine said. "Have passion, embrace change, and have a nice day."