Sure we've seen some ideas, like the "Beulah Fortune Six" or some good on track promo's, but none seem to grow the pie.
Recently California racing decided to try a 20% on track bonus for their pick 6. You have to bet your ticket at the track to get the bonus. That might help things a bit, so kudos for trying.
There is a recent push to help on-track wagering and the thinking is sound. The more that's bet on-track the more of the pie the track gets and the purses receive. There's nothing wrong with trying to increase on-track wagering.
However, most ideas (like the bonus for the pick 6) seem to be inside the box.
Here's an idea that's outside of it. The 5% on-track bet card.
Any customer who wants one gets one. There are some in existence today and this is nothing new, but this one has a twist. The customer signs up, he bets on track with this card for all his wagers for the day, but before the last race he is given 5% of his betting volume back. This, in effect is a 5% rebate, just like someone playing at an ADW would get at home.
These "virtual dollars" are not cash though. He can't swipe his card, take out out his $50 out and head out for a six pack and a steak. These dollars are simply a credit on this players card that he has to play on the last race of the day. A wagering credit.
He or she has to be on track and has to be present for the last race of the day to use this money. If he or she wins his free bet, the virtual dollars are now real dollars and he or she can take them out to use them as he or she wishes. or the bettor can simply leave a balance on the card to come back tomorrow and play the races again.
This 5% back could be formidable for a number of reasons.
- It allows you to sign up people for a card, so you can track their play and deliver better customer service.
- It gives the customer a better experience. Who doesn't want a rebate?
- It increases handle. Isn't that what we're supposed to be doing?
- It drives people to the track
- It gives players a better chance to win. You might be able to beat a race but you can't beat the races. But it's a heck of a lot easier with 5% back.
- 5% back is not a lot of money. If the average takeout is 22%, this lowers it on track to 17%. Currently a signal fee is around 9% for these players at home.
- It gets people to stay to the end of that card. We're paying them to.
He plays 8 races, $10 WPS a race and a few ex's and doubles. He rolls his bankroll over four times for $800 in betting volume.
He then bets $40 in the last race via his rebate. Let's say a track gets really crafty (this is obviously less effective but it may make it easier to get by a horseman group) and they make the virtual dollars to be accepted into one pool, like a Super High 5.
There are (hopefully) thousands of Pete's at the track. The last race pool, if it was say a Super High 5, could be increased by over $150,000 (if $3M is bet on track with these cards).
And of course, that $150,000 is taxed back through takeout, and some people will hopefully win, and churn that back as well.
Even better though: What player in simulcast land will not want to take a shot at a huge Super High 5 pool at your track if all these on track people are flooding that pool? It's almost like a carryover. Instead of a $40,000 super high 5 pool the pool could be $400,000, the highest in all of horse racing.
The takeout share from simo money now comes into play, too. In the end giving a 5% takeout reduction through this card could actually end up increasing revenue, virtually overnight.
This might even change the on-track culture. People may end up betting more to get more of a rebate for the last race. They might play more into the WPS pools to churn in races 1 through the second last race. You might have scores of people betting the show pools to cash. Instead of them playing into hard to hit bets getting them annoyed because they lose so often, they cash some tickets. This makes their day much more fun. It's always more fun to cash tickets.
We can't continue to nickel and dime horseplayers. We can't try to squeeze more from them at every turn by hiking takeout or killing their bankrolls. Be their partners, help them win more, make their day more enjoyable. Think outside the box and don't be conventional. You might find yourself better off.