Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Finally - Targeting Bettors via Television

For those that know the blog, a hot topic for us in local harness racing has been the use of television to show things the old fashioned way, versus targeting bettors in a targeted way. As most who watch Race Night on the Score know, the human interest stories while the great puzzle of handicapping the races is going on are maddening. As I have said before, and you have agreed in spades, "if we have to watch another story on a feed man from north of Guelph who owns four pet ponies during a telecast I think I am going to have a seizure". In my view, not using a show like this in promoting what you are selling (i.e. gambling on the product from home) is wasted airtime.

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.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

It almost was their highest handle night last night.
Nearly 1.5....damn, and it's not like the card was fantastic or anything.

best regards,

Louis.

Anonymous said...

This is a shocker! I did not think Woodbine would ever change........ even a little bit about these kinds of things. I wonder how many meetings this took to decide. It is nice to see them concentrating on growth in a proper way (that is by focusing on bettors and betting). If they lower takeout on a bet some time soon I am investing in suspenders because the world turned upside down.

Anonymous said...

Now maybe if they cleaned some of the seagull crap off the seats in the stands, taught their unionized mutuel clerks some manners and customer service and offered some decent food that someone might actually want, maybe, just maybe...people would actually go and watch live!!!

Jen Morrison said...

I gather, however, that Bet night Live for standardbreds and TB is going to be for beginners only...how to bet etc.... we'll see in a few weeks

Pull the Pocket said...

Thanks for that Jen.

I think that a good idea, as well. IMO, there is nothing wrong with showing people the game - but even better if they know that they can bet into a low take $40k super pool and cash almost 40k with a ticket :)

Beyer spoke of tracks offering imaginative bets here in the Post yesterday:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/04/AR2010050402499.html

PTP