Well it appears this might be changing. Race Night will be rebranded to 'Bet Night Live' at the end of the month. The new show will "centre around a four-race wagering contest through WEG’s online platform HorsePlayer Interactive."
At the Standardbred Wagering Conference in 2008 I spoke to several people involved and they relayed to me that talking about betting on the air ran somewhat afoul of government rules (yes it was true. The government can spend millions on TV talking about casino's but lil' old racetracks can not talk too specifically about betting). It appears they can at least broach the subject and have devised a plan. Long ago we spoke of a special Monday bet for example, like a "Score Pick 4" at a 14.99% takeout (making it promotable as the lowest takeout pick 4 in North America) where the bet is promoted each Monday on TV. I think an idea like that has a chance. After all, Monday's this past month all Woodbine did was highlight a pick 4 pool by guaranteeing it. Guess what, it grew. By highlighting and promoting - virtually nothing quite honestly - they got people to play it. When was the last time you saw a $58k pick 4 pool at Woodbine harness? Probably a North America Cup night. Well that is what they got bet into it last Monday.
For too long racing has had the attitude that if you show something, or offer a race, people will come just like they did long ago. It is not the way it works today, you have to offer something and promote it. You have to experiment. You have to work at it. You have to give people a reason to bet your product. And most of all, you can not bean count. It matters what your business is in five years, not five weeks; that's why many businesses write five year business plans. From a bean counting perspective, raising the pick 4 take five years ago was just fine. I would ask Woodbine how their overall nightly handles are five years hence with decreased churn from the hike.
It's not your grandfather's racing and it is not a monopoly product any longer. The Kentucky Derby can promote itself as an event with side shows galore. Work week betting at Woodbine or Mohawk is a game, not an event. If Woodbine uses this in the right way, Monday's could be their highest handle night, in my opinion, without question, and I would have this as a corporate goal.
Now, a special low takeout bet? An interesting race to promote all over? A seeded superfecta pool? The sky is the limit when you are energized to grow your handle and promote your game. Leaving the feed man stories where they belong - in the the trade magazines - and focusing on what you are is long overdue.