Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Notes

This weekend's racing at the Meadowlands was a pleasant surprise. Handle was up, but more importantly the races were pretty competitive, which may portend more good news. The classification system seems to be working. I often look at Compubet, to see the race breadth in the ratings. The last couple of days the breadth has been really tight and the tote board has been similar.

Slots have thrown racing into disarray, whereby some of the smaller handle tracks have the highest purses. This is different than in the recent past where a place like the Meadowlands had the highest purses, and the best horses each Saturday evening. The Meadowlands will continue to struggle in that regard, however carding good races can breed handle, and they're clearly making some headway on this.

I had a chat yesterday with Darryl from Standardbred Canada about the PMU in France. Darryl is a supporter of a central organization doling out signals and bets, like is done in France, and would like to see similar in North America. On paper he is likely correct - it makes sense. Instead of hundreds of racetracks all fighting for signal time, setting takeout rates, dealing with horsemen groups, one central group seems to be preferred.

Unfortunately, it's kind of like comparing apples and alligators. A central organization will set rates, but like in France they will be set high. With no competition there is little chance for horseplayers to get a break. France works for mainly one reason: The PMU is protected by government decree. This is what Betfair noted when they were stifled in entering the market, as were other bookmakers.
  • "French legislation will certainly benefit the incumbent players and the ultimate loser will be the French consumer. The new law does not adequately open the former monopoly's market to true competition from other operators.
What on paper may make sense often times isn't, because when competition is stifled there is a loser. And the loser is the consumer. In North America, where upwards of 40% of handle is rebated (which is a central organization will probably quell) it seems like a non-starter.

In effect we have a mini-signal aggregator here in North America in two locales: HPI in Canada and Twinspires in the US. How's takeout at those ADWs?

It's sad that some tracks can't get a leg up, because they're trying. Yesterday some of the most entertaining racing in North America happened at Turfway Park. The poly was playing fair to late and there were some excellent finishes.

As we spoke about yesterday on the blog re: slots, we think that the narrative racing uses should change from jobs and "the government is stupid" to "not in my backyard with your gambling expansion plan, please".  The problem with some arguments by racing - like for example, the government will somehow do worse if slots are taken away from tracks' -  they don't pass the smell test. If an argument doesn't pass the smell test, all the other arguments tend to get discounted as well.

Charles Town, a long time whipping boy for "bad racing" has turned the corner. Their handle continues to grow. Charles Town has been aggressive in marketing and lowered their takeout quite a bit a couple of years ago.

Did you ever want to see harness racing try something crazy to up interest? Here are 5 crazy ways to improve the sport in HRU (page 4 PDF).

 Have a great Sunday everyone.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Although I have left several comments on your blog, basically I am part of the silent majority.

As the year ends, want to thank you for your astute views and insights, especially regarding the Ontario Slots scenario. Your comments should be required reading for all the Ontario Harness horsemen making comments on the Standardbred Canada website. Personally that site has censored my own comments regarding the slots problem, showing that they will not tolerate or publish comments contrary to their position.

Looking forward to reading your thoughts in 2013. Happy new year.