You Can't Win

At many conferences I have been to, and in discussion with most who own horses, or are involved in racing, the question "why is racing fading" is mostly met with the usual: Our game is not exciting, we should ban whipping, we need to play more music, we have to have entertainment between races, and on and on. On the blog and elsewhere with gamblers (i.e. the customers) this is rarely spoken about. The chasm between the inside baseball of racing, versus the grassroots is as large as the grand canyon.

On, a poster cuts to the chase and echos what we have said on the blog for a long time. Racing is dieing because customers can't win.

There have been lots of talk about what appeal horse racing has or could have to the mainstream public. Many give low marks to the industry in attracting more non horseplayers to this game.

In my opinion, there is one reason alone that keeps non horseplayers from crossing over: You cannot win at the game!

The game is so heavily burdened by takeout and other "hidden" costs (ie, pay for information (pp's), pay to play, pay to get in, pay for race replays, on and on), that it could be argued that it is mathematically impossible to come out ahead save for hitting a big score (pick 6 or other).

There will be many horseplayers quick to refute the "can't win" scenario but they have their own agenda for doing so. They cannot continue to play with an agreement that the game can't be beat.

My feeling is until the takeout is reduced to a competitive level (10%) and the cost to gather information is seriously dropped, the game will have to live with the smallish, core group of players that currently fund it.

Further, from a reply:

For the very few who actually win, there are thousands who do not.

The pricing model is extremely uncompetitive in 2008. The model assumes horseplayers are idiots who don't know any better. That might have worked many years ago when people had no other choices, but now there are too many other options. Until the higher ups in this game realize horseplayers are not idiots, they will still continue to struggle along while doing nothing to create a few generation of bettors.

I believe that in order to create new fans, you need the current fans (see customers) to totally believe in this game. The current customer has to be able to tell a non customer "hey, racing is a great game, its fun, exciting, a great entertainment option and you have a reasonable shot to win big" As of 2008, not one current fan is telling a non fan that this is the case.

An extremely high percentage of current fans were introduced to this game by someone who was already established. Same thing for the newbies, they are going to have to be brought into the game by a current customer/fan and that just isn't going to happen in the real world.

We are selling a product that people can't win at. And horseplayers are not roulette players. They don't come for a free beer, or to "have some fun", or don't care if they win or lose. They come to beat the game that they study and sweat over. After awhile, when they realize with increasing takeouts that it can not be beaten and all their hard work was for nothing, they leave.

This is so basic, and cuts right to the chase, it is simple. We do not have to look for scapegoats, we don't have to take a poll, we don't have to start up a commission. It is right there for racing to see. All they have to do is open their eyes to see bettors heading to the exits, wondering why in the heck they walked through the door, knowing they were going to lose yet again. Sooner or later, those people don't come back. Can we blame them?


Anonymous said...

Another great post. The most topic in racing.

Anonymous said...

All this is free to me.
This mornings workouts are ending and I can go to Equibase and look at the times for any race track. If I see a work that impresses me I click on the horse and next time he works or is scheduled to race I get an e-mail. I can construct a virtual stable and get notified by e-mail when any of my horses works or is entered. I can see entries as soon as they are made even before the morning lines are available. I can look at any chart of any race over the past few weeks. Any track I follow I can go to their web-site and pull down the condition book and try and find spots for horses I might be following. I can watch replays from all the tracks on Twinspires, even July 30th 3rd at Goodwood UK, Henrythenavigator vs Ravens Pass. If I see a trouble line in the PPs for a horse I watch the replay and see what it cost the horse. Raceday the pools and exotic payoffs are constantly updated and just click to make your wager.
So a little money for paper and ink and a internet connection and live is good. Now if I feel like socializing I get in the car, fight the traffic and go to the track.
P.S. The reason I noted the Goodwood race is because I think they do a much better job with the cameras and that both Henry and Ravens Pass may be in the BC.


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