I want a fat quaddie.
We were speaking below about how we have seemingly marketed everything over the years, except the betting element. As we see from handle figures this has not been a rousing success - yearly per capita handle on horse racing probably resides somewhere near what the average Canadian spends on Vanilla Ice cd's. It has recently been released that Woodbine harness is looking at moving the start-finish line, the photo finish camera and the press box to accommodate a new track configuration. It is speculated that since Woodbine's track is biased to speed, this will help make the product better.
Price tag: $1,300,000.
Although I admire them trying, I believe there are better places to spend a buck. I am not even close to sold that the track configuration is the reason we see less movement. Despite the novelty element, I do not think it will make much of a difference for our long-term growth, and I think that even if a bit more movement is the result, it will not raise handles, and keep them raised.
Instead, I think we should do something to market the gambling on the product and purple cow it. My solution? Take some of that $1.3 million and give me a fat quaddie.
In Australia it is mandated by government that the takeout maximum is 16%. It can go no higher. Some bets are higher than a 16% takeout, so if there is money left over, the track must give it back. One way that they do it is with a fat quaddie. A fat quaddie is a pick 4 with a zero percent takeout. Let me type that again - the takeout is zero.
They promote this in a couple of ways. First they advertise, obviously, that this is a great bet. No bet on earth has a zero percent takeout. I would bet a few price sensitive poker players step up to the plate for this bet. Second, they get celebrities to pick tickets by spending $100 each time they are offered, and any winnings are given to the charity of their choice.
Zero percent takeout bet: Advertises that our skill game is beatable, at least for one day. Celebrities playing it: Advertises the coolness of the track in a traditional marketing way. Talking about winnings: Brings people back to the track, because we attack the stigma that you can't beat the races.
The results are very good, as they have stuck with it and helped build it as a brand. At one big meet the quaddie pool hit $3M. For a regular meet when they offer the 0% pick 4, they usually budget that pools will hit $500,000.
We have only tried something similar here in North America and it was at a small track (Ellis Park 4% pick 4), who was not a brand like Woodbine is and it was only done for a short period of time. Even with that, it helped put the track on the map, in the bettors mind, and raised handle on the bet. One day it hit close to $100,000 in the pool.
I think Woodbine should offer its live fans a Fat Quaddie (or something similar) during this meet (on the internet too if possible). A 0% takeout on a pick 4 for patrons, given a sensational moniker like our Australian friends have given theirs. Will it work? No doubt it would take some time, but frankly I have no idea. Our game has fallen so far, so fast. But, in my opinion, it will generate buzz that Woodbine is a place to bet, add a little zip to the churn; and it is exactly what our game needs to do to combat falling handles. The words buzzworthy and value with horse betting have not been used in the same sentence for some time. Maybe we should give it a try.
Would you be enticed to play a 0% pick 4 daily at Woodbine? Let me know your thoughts.