However, one move that Churchill made this past couple of weeks, I believe, is taking a step backwards.
Via a post on the Betfair chat board:
- We regret to notify you that as of now we will no longer be offering exchange markets on racing from the all Churchill Downs-controlled US tracks due to contractual limitations placed on our US affiliate, TVG, by Churchill Downs. The impacted US tracks are: Arlington Park, Calder Race Course, Churchill Downs, Fair Grounds, Hoosier Park, Oaklawn Park and The Meadows. The 2012 KY Derby Ante Post market will be carried to its fruition, but no day of race market will be offered.
This player was a huge racing fan and bettor in the 1990's, but after discovering poker, he left the game and did not play a cent in our game. Poker's takeouts, as you all know, allowed him to make money, and you can leave being a bettor of a game pretty quickly when something else is a better bet.
Then along came Betfair, and he began dabbling in racing again. If a race was on the site, he would look at it and play it. He also began betting in the pools again, re-following the sport, and watching it on television, because he had a rekindled interest in the sport.
I asked this player: "If Betfair stopped carrying tracks, how much would you bet into the pools?"
His answer: "Nothing"
Not "I would cut down my play", it was "nothing".
There seems to be a belief in the executive halls of racing that if you offer something like betfair, people will leave the pools and it will hurt handles. There is never (that I've seen) anything said to the opposite effect.
I spoke to him this week and asked who he liked in the Derby. After finding out the markets can't be traded, he won't even download the card. He'll catch the race on TV later.
No pick 6 tickets, no superfectas, nothing. If he can't play the markets, he won't spend precious gambling time on the race.
The Kentucky Derby market at Betfair is one big billboard for the race. It's an advertisement to fans all over the world. Millions of dollars will switch hands and be traded. Stories on how the horses are doing will be read by many people. It's a branding mechanism that any TV commercial cannot buy.
In my opinion, when you eliminate it, like they have this year over contractual ilk, the brand suffers.
Our big days are great. Racing needs every avenue to promote itself. When you shut one down I believe you will not get bigger, you'll get smaller.