I was on a call this week and the Horseplayers Association's Bob Dwyer mentioned that the slots issue in Illinois is "not really a customer issue" on the positive side because slots don't do much at all from a customers' perspective.
Not only that - which I think we'll all agree with - even sometimes for the business side it makes one scratch their noggin.
Never is that more telling than yesterday's news about Georgian Downs increasing the slots-fuelled purse of the Upper Canada Cup by $100,000, to a whopping $600,000.
The Upper Canada Cup is a sire stakes race, in a province full of sires stakes races. In Godin-speak it's not a purple cow, it's not even a cow. Last year, on a card that gave out about $800,000 in purses, the handle was $225,000. The customers yawned. They yawned so much that apparently it's a good idea to hike the purse even more.
Where is the imagination?
We all know if the purse for the Cup was $200,000 you'd get exactly the same horses in the race. It's not like they're going to take the week off and race at Western Fair for $10,000 in a nw100k OSS life. The handle wouldn't be much different either.
What could you do with the other $400,000?
How about partnering with the OSS for a 4YO series to encourage horse owners to race their horses at 4, i.e. juicing up the Masters Series?
What about changing they way things are done, like Greg on twitter pointed out, so you can up the Confederation Cup purse to a million?
What about a successive weekend series of some sort, with $100,000 of it into marketing the event to cottage country? Create the Little Brown Jug of the north?
I am sure, with some thought, consultation and a will, we could do something worthwhile and exciting. For goodness sakes, it's $600,000.
Instead, we have another $100,000 added for an OSS race that will be lucky to generate $225,000 of handle, and probably $15,000 of revenue for the racetrack when deductions are taken out.
Several years ago in Louisiana, one of the track guys was speaking to a horseman who was asking for slots money to fuel $2,000 claimers. The track dude said 'no one bets them. Why don't I, each week just show up at the track and give everyone with a $2,000 claimer a check not to race.'
I agree with that gentleman. If we're going to dole out slot money, just for the sake of doling out slot money, give it away. It's cheaper.