The Only Article One Needs To Read....

.... if they want to understand why wagering has fallen so far, so fast.

Joe Riddell, a bloodstock agent and horseplayer is interviewed for a business magazine about the 21st century racing customer, internet wagering and more.

Some salient points:

* On needing a national internet business model, getting the fingers out of the pie, and respecting the bettor:

..... not only does it not have the right business model, it doesn't have the right management team in place. As a whole you have to understand where our customers are, where they've gone, what they're demanding and recognize that we need to bring them back into the game and certainly back into the revenue stream. ...

RH: Who are the customers?

JR: Customers are the gamblers who are demanding a certain rate, a certain convenience and customer service that the industry has failed to provide. They're usually pretty high end, very intellectual gamblers who have now had their need satisfied by their bookmakers

What he is speaking of is exactly what betfair did: Target the customer, because they were the customer. While we were looking for answers about the "on track" experience, or arguing about who the customer actually is, they attacked the dissatisfied of our market.

* On price sensitive gamblers who have gone to betfair, or play poker:

RH: So what does the horse industry do?

JR: Recognize why we lost them and understand how we need get them back. … It's as simple as understanding they are very price sensitive. We're trying to tell them that we want to charge them 20 percent for our product, and they're saying, 'Well, we'll pay you 10,' and we say, 'Okay, go away.

If WalMart had a "okay, go away" customer policy I do not think they would have done very well.

* On the braintrust in racing:

RH: You mentioned that race tracks, racing associations which own the various race tracks have been very slow to react to analyze exactly what it is they need to do. Can you explain why that has occurred?

JR: It's very simple: they have the wrong managers. They've gone out of their way to hire accountants and attorneys to do it, and these accountants and attorneys, especially more attorneys than anything, are very smart people, but if they've ever gone to the races and handicapped a race and placed a bet, they are disqualified from management at these race tracks. And I'm not being facetious, I'm not exaggerating. That is exactly what they've done. They've gone out and got these very smart people who don't understand the game, who don't understand the mind of our customer. ... If Vegas had the same model, it would have been shut down a long time ago, it would be a ghost town now.

We have echoed this before here: If you do not bet, do not grind and do not spend your time engulfed in betting this game it is very hard to understand people who do. Andrew Black, who created betfair, was and is to this day a bettor. To me, it is no coincidence that a site run by a bettor has changed the way gambling is viewed and has grown from a two person company in a basement in the year 2001, to a $3.0B+ betting site, with more bets per year than the European stock exchanges combined.

* On what can be done to get price sensitive gamblers back:

RH: What would you suggest when you mentioned that the wagers are looking for players or looking for a uniform vehicle in which to wager, how do you think that could be brought about?

JR: Frank Stronach, who's the founder of Magna Entertainment, about five or six years ago mentioned what he called the Central Betting Exchange. … The Central Betting Exchange idea was to have all the signals go through one hub and then individual brokerages like my company, Premier Turf, can then get a brokerage license attached to that hub, and it would therefore be able to be a stock trade. ... So you could choose to get a volume, a company that would give you the lowest rate, or a higher rate with more customer service, more perks involved.

The Central Betting Exchange idea is one that I've spent a long time thinking about, working on and it is a truer model, where all the race tracks can agree to sell their signal ... for whatever rate they think their tracks can handle.

So … you've got all the signals coming to one central exchange, where different entities like Premier Turf, like Twins Spires at Churchill Downs, like Express Bet of Magna, can hook onto that central exchange and be able to handle to take bets on every horse running in North America today at a price that is appropriate, that is low enough to attract all the clientele.

It is time for our business to be guided by capitalist, forward thinking principles. Fighting among horseman groups and tracks, and the beggar thy neighbor economics of racing has to stop. Thinking our customers are like slots players has to stop, too. Horse bettors are intelligent, price sensitive people who want to play a game to win; not to lose and get doors shut on them at every turn.

The time has come for us to realize this. I sincerely hope the management in racing puts people in charge who bet and who live this game. If so, we have a small chance to save our game.

Photo of Joe courtesy Chris Rosenthal, Lexington Business.

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