Monday, March 10, 2008

Interesting Discussions

I am not sure if you noticed, but there are some interesting discussions out there in harness land.

On this blog, Carol asked some good questions and gave some good opinion on the ‘Stagecoach’ and ‘What Tracks do’ columns below. Carol is a lover of the sport, has worked in it for so long, and understands her bailiwick is not betting. It is purely excusable. My bailiwick is not writing. We all have our experience in some areas of the game. At least she was honest. She took time out to listen to others.

On Cangamble’s blog, I see he was confronted by what he thinks was a racing exec. Who knows who it was, but I must say, he sure sounded like he might have been one. This to me is disconcerting. There was very little listening to a customer.

We all have our expertise in racing. Some bet, some train, some own. Some just come out for face painting for their kids. We are all a part of it. We are all different. What I don’t like is that people who don’t know a certain part of the game, sometimes do not listen. For example, if my trainer says he placed a Murphy blind on my horse I do not question it – I listen, learn and defer to his expertise. We don’t question a plumber when he is snaking a toilet either. Why is it that when a customer who bets millions makes a point, he is not listened to in this business? It seems it happens too often.

In my opinion, what has happened in racing for so, so long is that being a monopoly, they have not had to listen. It is like a disease that will not go away. Our track execs, and horseman execs need to do a whole lot more listening. They might learn, and they might find in the end that we can grow this business.

5 comments:

Rubbet Kvar said...

The people in charge of the game in Europe do listen but I'm afraid they only listen to themselves. Last week people in charge of the horse racing industry (both thoroughbred and harness racing) in Europe got together in Brussels to discuss the interesting topic of "Does the horseracing industry have a future in Europe?" From the early reports of these meetings it seems like the majority of the discussions were concentrated around the "superiority" of the pari-mutuel system of betting. The bookmakers and off-shore betting markets were of course demonized.

If you are about to have discussions around a question like "Does the horseracing industry have a future in Europe?" you have to start to listen. To all players in the game. If you refuse to do that the answer to the question is an easy one.

Best regards,

Janne

Cangamble said...

We are not making suggestions to try to hurt their bottom line and therefore purses. The reality is that we want new people playing more than they want new people playing because when we bet, in order to win, we aren't beating the track, but the other players.
Slots took away lots of dummy money, and poker took away a lot of new potential players.
But there is a buzz in poker....people can win over lengthy periods. There is no buzz when it comes to horse race gambling, and how could there be at an average take of over 20% where knowledgeable players are pitted against each other.
I saw one comment on Pace Forum that I have thought about after first finding it a little off the wall: "bad small players should get bigger rebates than good bigger players"
It makes total sense, why not give people who have a ROI less than .70 a bigger rebate? We need more dummy money, not smart money in the pool.
Of course, the real solution is just cut takes to the 12-15% across the board everywhere for everyone.

Pull the Pocket said...

It is interesting those "meetings" with the higher ups, Janne. We have them here too.

At the last one, one of the wagering company guys had this plan to help increase revenues. He wants it so the track gets a third of the revenue, horseman get a third, and the wagering provider gets a third.

I ask "where is the customer?"

The biggest obstacle to growth right now is not having enough customers, and all we seem to think about is how to divide up the dwindling pie.

Could you see Bill Gates at a meeting in 1993, when rivals are stealing market share and his business is in a make-or-break spot doing the same thing? Would he be concerned with how much a distributor sells Windows for, or would he be worried about the people buying Windows?

We are ass-backwards, imo, in racing. Completely backwards.

I am not sure you are aware of Andrew Beyer (he is a thoroughbred racing columnist in North America), and in a recent column he said "people in racing are perhaps the only people in the world that think simple business principles do not apply to them."

It is a problem we have had for a long, long time, and I think it is one of the reasons we are in this mess.

Cangamble said...

Here is how betting has tried to increase customers recently:
1. Innovative technologies making it easier for anyone to bet anytime from anywhere. Woodbine has been a leader in this area. Bottom line, it hasn't worked, and if it has worked, they would be in a lot more trouble without the innovations. It hasn't attracted new customers, it just made it easier for old customers to go broke quicker.

2. Attempting to invoke or support laws to try to wipe out the competition. Again, look at the US and their ban of internet gambling:
Betting revenues on horse racing went down.
Woodbine signs collusive deals with ADW's thinking they will get customers back. Customers just find another way to get lower rates or stop playing altogether.

People go broke betting whether they know it because of takeout or not a lot faster than they did in the 60's when there was one track, 8 races, 2 exactors and a daily double. It is a different game altogether, and the racing execs are stuck in the exec mentality of the 60's.

Cangamble said...

That should read, this is how "the horse racing industry" has tried to increase customers recently.
D'oh.