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"If Only Those Gamblers Were Just Like Me"

Racing has interesting subsets of customers. Of course there's the gambler, looking for a score. There's the participant, who earns money from the sport. And there's a fan, who may bet a little, but he or she mainly watches racing, because he or she loves racing.

In many sports, these three subsets of customers happily mix, and almost all the time their interests overlap. In the NFL, for example, a gambler might want better injury information. But so does the fan, and so does the opposing coach. A player might want lower ticket prices because they want to play in front of a packed house and this is what the fan wants, too. It's all simpatico.

In racing it's not like this at all. The gambler - who might want higher field size and lower takeout - is completely at odds with many participants and fans, who seem to want to work against them. It's almost like it's a challenge of some sort, like a grand boxing match of yore.

"If only those gamblers were just …
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Derby-Preakness Coverage Contrasts

Contrast this coverage w/ CDI and Derby day where horseplayers are scrambling to find live feed of races omitted from live broadcast / ADW. — o_crunk (@o_crunk) May 19, 2017 and
@o_crunk Also note the difference in the Periscope vs. Roberts stream quality — same device, same connection. — Jessica Chapel (@railbird) May 19, 2017 Those tweets are self explanatory. If you are not watching the XBTV, or Pimlico hosted track feed today, you're probably missing out.

For those who want the pomp and pageantry, the NBC feed will have it. For the rest of us, we have a nice option - crisp, clear, smart coverage, while we bet a few dollars into the pools.


Who cares who I like in the Preakness (I'm not sure I even know before seeing the odds board), but one horse I will not bet, will be Always Dreaming. Not because I don't think he can win, not because I don't think he can win by a lot. Not because 3-5, or whateve…

Racing Goes Full- Blown Napster

I've been reading some of the interwebs today regarding the Stronach lawsuit against Derby Wars. As most know, Derby Wars - a contest site - has been in business for quite awhile (even partnering with some tracks with a revenue share).
Last year, after the suit was filed, Derby Wars reached an agreement with Hawthorne Racecourse near Chicago giving the track a portion of its entry fees on tournaments using Hawthorne’s races. At the time, Midland said the agreement was part of a larger strategy to work with the racing industry. “We see working with racetracks as important to growing contests,” Midland said. “Partnering with the tracks is a natural way to do that.” Stronach does not want to do that, apparently. Instead they've gone full-blown Napster.

The problem, as I see it, is you should never go full-blown Napster. Full-blown Napster is not considered good business. And you don't even have to possess a fancy business degree to understand why you never go full-blown Nap…

Stronach v Derby Wars - Killing Customers, One at a Time

It was announced today that a federal judge ruled for the Stronach Group and against Derby Wars, citing that the contest site was operating like an OTB or ADW.

"A federal judge has ruled that horse racing tournament website Derby Wars has been operating as an off-track betting business and is subject to the federal Interstate Horseracing Act, which requires consent of racetracks and racing commissions prior to accepting any wagers."

This probably pretty much shuts down the company, as is.

Leaving aside that Derby Wars is probably about as close to an ADW or OTB as a hamburger is to an octopus, this is really, really disturbing. Other sports simply do not act like this.  No, most other leagues or games, looking for reach for its core product have looked to partner with tournament games. This is especially true for small, niche leagues, like the CFL:

“This new fantasy offering will give avid CFL fans and sports fans new to our league an opportunity to deepen their engageme…

Squeezing Those ADWs Out of Business

Some racetracks and horsemen groups search for a lot of bogeymen under their beds at night. The latest, in that long line, are ADW companies. They either don't pay enough, or need to be monitored at every turn, including with geo-targeting.

Now, I am not here to defend a rather strange and sub-optimal betting delivery system, but I will continue to defend one simple point: Squeezing them won't grow horse racing.

Today at TechCrunch, Zack Kanter, the founder of Sedi (a company in the really tough ERP space) wrote a fantastic article about retail, and the various machinations of it. The article is really good, and if you're interested it's worth a read. One part of it, about backward (or forward) linkages caught my eye:
"the increased margins typically evaporate over time. There are great examples of this in the automotive industry, where automakers have gone through alternating periods of supplier acquisitions and subsequent divestitures as component costs skyrock…

Please Powers that Be: "Save Us From the Twinspires Players Pool!"

Crunk's well-written piece about the Twinspires player's pool has been getting some traction on the interwebs. For those who have not read it, Crunkland talks about the brouhaha with the Derby superfecta hit outside the player's pool, and the overall ROI of the player's pool over the last eight months or so (it's poor).

The reaction to this in some quarters (and maybe this should surprise no one in this day and age) is to ban these player pools.

That in my view, is nonsensical overreach.

Player's pools have existed for a long time, in many countries, including Australia, where they continue to be quite popular. For a low buy-in, customers can play along, looking for a huge score in a carryover pick 6, or place pot, or what-have-you, in pools that are too expensive for their bankrolls.

They, like you and I who may be playing more money into these pools, get the same thrill cheering along as we get one, or two, or three winners on our tickets. It's worth $20 …

Big Racing Days Are Great, But They're Missing Out on Landing New Fans & Customers

Over the last few years there's been quite a bit of talk about big racing days. As smaller tracks struggle with handles, the large tracks have done fairly well (in racing context well, which is incremental). When a big day is added, a track can do really well.

And, when a track does really well, like Churchill's handle was this weekend, it does spin off.
Non-CD handle did pretty good too yesterday. All non-CD handle up 10.7% ($59.6M vs $53.8M last year), per race up 11.8% on 20 more races too — o_crunk (@o_crunk) May 7, 2017 This is, when we think of it logically, the way things are supposed to happen. It's all good.

Further to the core numbers, as written last week, the Derby brand creates buzz, and this buzz spins off in other ways:

As those graphs show, not only are there more bettors and fans watching these days, there are more people who are newbies who are looking to learn about horse racing.

That's wonderful, right? Sure it is.

Check out the same phenomenon wit…