Thursday, June 28, 2012

Harness Handles From Yesteryear

I got an email from a harness watcher (thanks Beav!) noting a blog post from Robert Smith. He looked at one single day in 1986 at various tracks, detailing both attendance and handle. This was in the dead of winter, to boot.

Some highlights:

Greenwood Raceway : Attendance 10.179, Handle $1,931,591

Orangeville (now closed), a whopping handle of $283,334. This with average purses of about $600.

Cloverdale in BC, over $500,000.

Blue Bonnets in Montreal, almost $1M.

All in all, for just that day, with other tracks dark as well, the handle was about $5M. Attendance was over 30,000.

In today's dollars, that puts Greenwood's handle at $4.1M, overall harness handle for the day at over $10M.

It's a different world today. There are so many other options for our time, our gambling dollars and our entertainment dollars. I can't help but think, however, if you had a crystal ball and said "in 20 years we'll be able to bet at home, bet any track we want, at any hour of the day, handles will explode", I don't think too many would disagree with you.

That didn't happen, of course, for the most part. I think one of the major reasons is the fact we increased frequency of potential bets, increased the number of bets (most of them hard to hit), and did not decrease takeout rates to ensure people stayed in play. Losing money more quickly, is an easy way for people to leave you forever.


4 comments:

Pacingguy said...

I'm no economist, but I don't think you can project handles increasing with the rate of inflation. $2 in 1986 is $2 in 2012. Yes, the purchasing value of those $2 has decreased, but the price of a wagering hasn't changed.

If we were talking about a product like movie tickets where the prices of a ticket has increased with inflation, then I think you could make the argument handles should have increased.

Anonymous said...

Rate of inflation is a core metric for comparing any gambling game.

Caroline said...

Even if the denomination of a bet (denomination, not the "price") hasn't changed, you would expect people to bet more multiples of $2 in line with inflation if they were demanding wagering on horse racing at the same rate as all other goods or all other gaming products or if they were willing to give up the same volume of other stuff (the $ price of which has increased substantially) to wager on horse racing. It's the opportunity cost of $2 that matters, and that has gone down... a lot.... so people should be willing to increase the number of $2 bets they make. Inflation comparison is spot on.

Cangamble said...

Not only should you factor in inflation but you should also factor in population growth, which means the projection was even lower than it should be.