BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- The state has seen a spike in revenue from both casinos, but among those that benefit from their success some industries live and die by it. In Bangor, harness racing has seen its share of struggles, but gaming has breathed new life into this Maine staple.
Former chair of the Harness Race Commission George Hale said, "Years ago Maine kept harness racing alive and today gambling is keeping this industry...among other things afloat."
There is no question the number of people watching live races is dropping, but the industry doesn't depend on those people as much anymore. It receives millions a year from gaming revenue. This goes not only to the purse for winners, but helps in the rising cost of feed, vet bills, and hay.
Horse trainer Michael Hitchcock said, "A lot of people think it just helps us in purse money when we are racing but the money actually flows out to a lot of different vendors...Our hay and grains have gone up since [years ago] so we are not making as much money as people think we are, but we are surviving."
For those involved in the Maine pastime, they are not willing to fold on the industry yet.
Hitchcock said, "There's a lot of dedication, a lot of time. It's a seven day a week thing and it is an everyday thing for us."
Hale agreed, "It's an emotional battle that we fight. People want to do this, there are a lot of people who would not be able to do anything else for a living to be honest with you. This is all they've done their entire lives."
Last year, Hollywood and Oxford casinos were responsible for five million dollars in purse money for the races. So far this year, Hollywood casino alone has given more than $5.2 million to the industry.