Woodbine Entertainment Group had a couple of things surface today. One, the appeal by Mr. Whelan who would not sign an access sticker that Woodbine asks us to sign to race, was dismissed, and the reasons for it were posted by the ORC. That is a big win for them. Secondly for horseplayers, they announced that they are offering a 1% takeout reduction for Australia racing. I am a big believer that the pricing control for wagering lies solely with ADW's. I think more promotions, more takeout reductions and more special deals should be done in this way. We can't bean count; we have to be aggressive, in my opinion.
We have been speaking of takeout for some time here. Only a couple of years ago this was a non-issue for many in racing. I remember one anecdote where a track exec was asked about his track's 25% exactor takeout by a horseplayer, and he replied "I know, the state will not let us raise it!" We have all heard that it "does not matter" like somehow the price of a product does not matter. On and on. However, there is a sea-change, and it appears to be happening right in front of our eyes. Alex Waldrop came back from a marketing conference, and the NTRA President wrote this.
"We have to recommit ourselves first and foremost to selling our game as a unique, challenging, exciting opportunity to wager on live horse racing. To that end, our primary customers are and must always be horseplayers."
"Said another way, do some tracks need to consider a reduction in takeout? From a pure economics perspective, the answer is clearly "yes." "
"Every other industry fighting to survive in this economy is taking a hard look at its retail pricing structure and it is high time horse racing considered doing the same."
It is very rare to see an insider speak like that in our sport. He is getting hammered by horseman groups, long held beliefs by many insiders, and it is something that is considered heresy to many.
It bears repeating: The biggest problem in racing is that we do not know the right price for our product, other than knowing it is too high. Slot machines know (they used to have a 30% takeout and have moved it down to 6-9% as they make the most money there), lotteries know (the best lottery in NA is in MA, where they dropped their price to a profit maximizing 31% from a profit losing 60%), and every other business in this land knows. Isn't it time we find out?
Great Canadian Gaming, owner of Flamboro Downs and Georgian Downs are getting their butts kicked for their new idea of splitting dates between the tracks. This is somewhat comical, because this is not a new thing. Back in 2007 they offered out a discussion paper about doing a split meet, hoping that time off between, and making the meets more interesting will help their brand, and their wagering. The business was silent. Not a response of any sort in any forceful way.
I race at those tracks with my horses at times. I have no idea if it will be a bad or a good thing. But are not these items that we should have modeled, discussed and pilot projected for the last few years? Every time someone offers something out for racing the answer should not immediately be "no, I like the way things are". That stance has poisoned racing for 100 years. In this new century we should bury it.
I am in a pretty bad losing streak at the ponies. Nothing new there for any of us, but do you ever notice when it goes bad, it goes really bad? Last week I bet a super with two longer shots I liked. At about ten seconds to post I noticed one of my keys was washed out, so I cancelled the ticket. Sure enough he jogs, the super comes in, and it pays $23,200.
Trying to get out of a slump is one of the hardest things for horseplayers. How I am doing it now is like I always tend to. I am watching, and if I see something that sticks out, I will bet. If not I will sit on my hands, or take a very small poke. Currently for the thoroughbreds I am looking for a bias. That usually helps me. But I have not found one anywhere yet. It seems to me there might be a slight closing bias at the Meadowlands, but I am not sure.
Regardless, in frustrating times like this, being patient, not getting worked up and trying to keep a good perspective seems to serve me alright. I just hope something happens soon, or I will be hitting y'all up for a loan :)
Enjoy the weekend racing everyone.