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There's More Than One Response to One Big Aftercare Ask

Crunk tweeted this today --
What message does "racing" think it's sending when every winning ticket that's inserted into tote machines on track, the user is asked to make a donation to aftercare? I was surprised at this experience at SAR last w/e. Essentially forcing customers to think about this issue. — o_crunk (@o_crunk) July 30, 2018 On the surface, and for regular horse fans and bettors, this is pretty basic - Help aftercare with a touch of a button. Great idea.

If we slap on the critical thinking hat and look a few rungs below the top of the ladder, it becomes a little more problematic.

If you're at the track for the very first time and see this, your response might be different.

"They don't have a plan to take care of these horses when they retire? What kind of business would do that?"

If you're a politician out for a stroll that is unaware of the size of some of the tax breaks, or gaming subsidies, you might say, "I have to find ou…
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Grinding Down the Bankrolls of the Masses

David Schwartz of UNLV wrote a neat article on blackjack in Forbes today (h/t to Charlie).  In it he explores what's happened over the years as casinos have tried to make changes to the margins to earn more rake from each player. This includes 6-5 blackjacks and standing on a soft 17.

Proponents of 6:5 and the other edge-padding rule changes argue that the vast majority of customers don’t know the difference. Walking a casino floor and seeing 6:5 tables packed with smiling players, they might be right. But the numbers tell a different story. 
Since 2000, the number of blackjack tables in the state of Nevada has fallen by over 31 percent. Yes, but the amount casinos win from blackjack is still the same, some might argue, so things aren’t that bad. Factoring in inflation, though, the amount Nevada casinos have won at blackjack has fallen by 46 percent.
This is not much different than is seen with a marginal takeout increase in any game. Betting volume depends on a few things, one of…

May's Numbers Are In - Here's My Completely Back of the Napkin Monmouth Sports Betting Projections

Crunk linked today's New Jersey gaming report, and here were some numbers.
On $16.4M total handle, 7.8% hold. Full report can be found here (.pdf): https://t.co/FiHAbx0x19https://t.co/bKx3dLefYs — o_crunk (@o_crunk) July 12, 2018 Doing a little math we see Monmouth did about $10.8M in handle for the couple of weeks they were operating in May. Extrapolating handle is pretty problematic because this is like a cat trying to catch a laser pointer, but let's say for an average May this would mean Monmouth would bring in about $20M in sports wagers.

In contrast, Nevada Sports Books did $315M this May.

Playing around with the numbers, we can make some probably wildly inaccurate projections, but projections based on something concrete nonetheless.

I'm taking into account a 5% hold (it was reported as 7.8% but it will likely come down), 9% to the state, 50% to Monmouth as an operator and 40% to purses. Those last two percentages could be off, as Crunk in his tweet notes, but they…

Fake Racing News? Talk to People

Yesterday we had an article about how great sports betting was at Monmouth, and how it was probably helping racing because handles were increasing. Crunktathol sent a tweet with some facts.
I ran the numbers *wrong*. Corrected numbers (it's a little confusing since MTH ran on Fridays in June last year). 6/16,17,23,24 of 2018 vs 6/17,18,23,25 of 2017. Handle +16% (+$368K) on 6 *more* races. Per race +2.6% (+$1.3K) on 96 *more* interests. Per interest -10.8% (-$769). — o_crunk (@o_crunk) June 26, 2018 It's good to get facts, if you're not so entrenched to accept them. Monmouth has been stuffing the entry box and not having a great result; before or after sports betting.

And notice he didn't make some cemented conclusion about the numbers, he just presented them. No one knows exactly what's going to happen with sports betting over the next few years.

That's the way open discussion is supposed to work.

Meanwhile, we saw a tweet today with someone sharing an opini…

Be Like Mike - PED Use in Racing is About the Least Surprising Part of it

Mike let fly on the twitter today --
I will never understand people who aren’t at least mildly wary of PED use in racing. After Ben Johnson, Bonds, McGwire, Clemens, Lance & the Sochi Olympics you still think what we are seeing is normal? And that’s dismissing the 7 sudden deaths. — Mike Adams (@GateToWire) June 20, 2018 Mike often talks about the past (and sometimes current) use of illegal drugs on horses in the sport. He gets worked up why some people believe everyone is as pure as the driven snow and would not risk performance enhancing for financial gain, while in other sports it's common.

Leaving aside any specific trainers, past or present, in the broadest sense, I think he makes a very good talking point.

In Scorecasting, the authors studied drug use in baseball from various angles. Although they concluded there are many reasons for using drugs in the sport, one stuck out - opportunity cost. If the player had little recourse in his life, he was more likely to use banne…

Horse Racing Attendance Facts,..... or Myths?

Monmouth was humming on Father's Day with attendance up over 5,000 from last year.  The prevailing reason given - and it makes sense since the lineups were long - was the introduction of sports betting.

With all those people with stuffed wallets looking to wager, it's supposed to be a good thing for horse racing (an on-track handle did have a little bump). But, overall handle was down over 28% per entry. 

Meanwhile, over at Churchill, Triple Crown winner Justify was paraded on Saturday. And it was reported the attendance - 21,053 - was through the roof to see him. However, on the same evening last year, the attendance was 20,669.

20,000 people at a hockey game is good. 20,000 people in the Arkansas Derby infield are a different kettle of fish. Their net worth is not from $100 seats; it comes from what they wager, and they don't wager much.

The 500 extra people (let's be generous and say it was 2,000) to see a Triple Crown winner at Churchill Saturday are, sadly, not wo…

Protectionism Doesn't Work in Horse Racing Either

Flipping on to twitter in this day and age and you'll see classical liberal economists up in arms about protectionism. It's not like they don't have a point; wealth is created when we do what we're best at. It's not 1930 anymore.

It's more than that, however, because protectionism breeds more protectionism, and this exacerbates the issue time and time again.

We saw some evidence of this just today, in horse racing.

Woodbine's Clay Horner wrote the following on Facebook:


This new protectionist race is in response to Donald Trump being a protectionist. 
But hold it, Donald Trump was complaining about Quebec farmers who are protected through a supply management subsidy and are allowed to charge Canadian consumers 270% more for milk and dairy products. (This despite a "free trade" agreement).
So, and such is the case with protectionist policies, we have a bit of a puzzle. 
Canadian farmers have protection, so someone outside the country complains and …