Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Can I Get a Fat Quaddie Please?

I want a fat quaddie.

We were speaking below about how we have seemingly marketed everything over the years, except the betting element. As we see from handle figures this has not been a rousing success - yearly per capita handle on horse racing probably resides somewhere near what the average Canadian spends on Vanilla Ice cd's. It has recently been released that Woodbine harness is looking at moving the start-finish line, the photo finish camera and the press box to accommodate a new track configuration. It is speculated that since Woodbine's track is biased to speed, this will help make the product better.

Price tag: $1,300,000.

Although I admire them trying, I believe there are better places to spend a buck. I am not even close to sold that the track configuration is the reason we see less movement. Despite the novelty element, I do not think it will make much of a difference for our long-term growth, and I think that even if a bit more movement is the result, it will not raise handles, and keep them raised.

Instead, I think we should do something to market the gambling on the product and purple cow it. My solution? Take some of that $1.3 million and give me a fat quaddie.

In Australia it is mandated by government that the takeout maximum is 16%. It can go no higher. Some bets are higher than a 16% takeout, so if there is money left over, the track must give it back. One way that they do it is with a fat quaddie. A fat quaddie is a pick 4 with a zero percent takeout. Let me type that again - the takeout is zero.

They promote this in a couple of ways. First they advertise, obviously, that this is a great bet. No bet on earth has a zero percent takeout. I would bet a few price sensitive poker players step up to the plate for this bet. Second, they get celebrities to pick tickets by spending $100 each time they are offered, and any winnings are given to the charity of their choice.

Zero percent takeout bet: Advertises that our skill game is beatable, at least for one day. Celebrities playing it: Advertises the coolness of the track in a traditional marketing way. Talking about winnings: Brings people back to the track, because we attack the stigma that you can't beat the races.

The results are very good, as they have stuck with it and helped build it as a brand. At one big meet the quaddie pool hit $3M. For a regular meet when they offer the 0% pick 4, they usually budget that pools will hit $500,000.

We have only tried something similar here in North America and it was at a small track (Ellis Park 4% pick 4), who was not a brand like Woodbine is and it was only done for a short period of time. Even with that, it helped put the track on the map, in the bettors mind, and raised handle on the bet. One day it hit close to $100,000 in the pool.

I think Woodbine should offer its live fans a Fat Quaddie (or something similar) during this meet (on the internet too if possible). A 0% takeout on a pick 4 for patrons, given a sensational moniker like our Australian friends have given theirs. Will it work? No doubt it would take some time, but frankly I have no idea. Our game has fallen so far, so fast. But, in my opinion, it will generate buzz that Woodbine is a place to bet, add a little zip to the churn; and it is exactly what our game needs to do to combat falling handles. The words buzzworthy and value with horse betting have not been used in the same sentence for some time. Maybe we should give it a try.

Would you be enticed to play a 0% pick 4 daily at Woodbine? Let me know your thoughts.


Patrick J Patten said...

"except the betting element" - C'mon. What does Go Baby Go market, or even worse Who Do You Like Today, how does the mystery vouchers market anything but the gambling. You can say it was done poorly, but you can't say they've marketed everything BUT the gambling. That's false.

Anonymous said...

I think we need more competition on the wagering. There's a strong case to be made for the tracks doing the live meet, the facilities, the etc. etc., also being able to price their betting products to make some money, but it sure stifles competition and innovation.
Fort Erie will close and it seems like a good opportunity for Ontario to try something new. For example, right now the Fort Erie economic impact is gone. Zero. Well, something is better than nothing, so why not subsidize a short meet at FE while allowing some new types of bets, internet outlets, signal transmission , low takeouts etc..
The horsemen, the track, the government have failed to make FE viable. Even with slots for crying out loud. How about opening using this as an opportunity... Here's a chance for all the loud mouth opinion makers to step up and see what can be done. Why can't horseplayers operate their own track? Outsource everything and put into practice all the things people think will work.
My christmas wish....


Pull the Pocket said...

Hey Patrick,

Those are marketing things to give some free bets, or "come to the track and bet". That is not what I am speaking of. I am speaking of beating a game, and playing a game. Marketing to those people.

This is an example of what poker does. It is 2.0. It is not a free bet, or anything of the sort. There is a big difference with this, and we need to find a way to do it, imo:


It's the "Chris Ferguson Challenge". He started with zero dollars in his poker account, and ended up with ten k. It's brilliant; it says "come play our game where you can turn nothing into ten k!" They know what they are selling.

I would have a "fat quaddie challenge" if I were racing. With a zero rake, someone, somewhere will make a killing. Give everyone $100 who signs up for a new betting account and then give a prize to who has the most money made on fat quaddies. Someone will make a lot of money with this bet, and might even do better than Chris Ferguson did. We promote the game of making money. "I signed up with an online betting account and walked away with 25k" is our tagline. We'll be much better off, imo.


Anonymous said...

GEORGE: I don't want any “Fat Quaddie”.

KRAMER: Come on, take some. It's good.

(George tries it)

GEORGE: Very good. Juicy. Ripe. This Woodbine's got some good stuff.

(George looks a little weird)

JERRY: What?

GEORGE: I feel like I got a B12 shot. This is like a betting explosion!

KRAMER: I told you.

(George stands still)

JERRY: What is it?

GEORGE: I think it moved. Oh my god, I think it moved. Yeah, give me the big piece. I'll see you later.

(Elaine enters the apartment)

ELAINE: Hi George.

GEORGE: I'm back, baby, I'm back!

(George leaves the apartment)


Anonymous said...

Devil's Advocate here.
Fact: The biggest pools (US) have the highest takeouts. When winners hit the Breeders Cup Pick 6 with maybe a 20% takeout count Uncle Sam in for 25% of the after takeout payoff. When that 25% is withheld the money is gone. No churn.
The biggest thing that would help horseracing is for Uncle Sam to drop taxes on gambling winnings.
I wouldn't bet the Woodbine Pick 4. I have bet Fort Erie and Woodbine horses at Mnr and TB though. No discrimination.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'd guess you already know my thoughts but what the heck...

Win 4 used to be one of my favourite bets at WEG, along with superfectas. Not that I was that great at them, but I enjoyed the challenge as a bet and I was competent enough to be a few points on either the good or bad side of break even over the long term. As soon as WEG jacked the takeout back up 10 points( or whatever that exact amount was), it became a no brainer for me to stop betting them since I have Scottish blood and am not inclined to give my money away.

To this day, I have not bet one ( other than throwing a few dollars in a collective pool with Trackman and the other zealots when making a rare visit to the track). Previously I would say I would be spending in the range of say $1500 to $2000 a week strictly on win 4s. Not huge, but if there are enough out there of like mind, no doubt it has made an impact.

Notwithstanding the fact that I don't bet harness at all these days, I have no doubt if the economics of the game changed, I would be easily enticed back to the table.

Superfectas... well that's another story

Regards, hater of the .10/.20 supers

Anonymous said...

Oh c'mon, this idea is STUPID!!!

Dumb ideas like the Ellis Park 4% pick-4 is an EMPTY MARKETING TOOL used by tracks who are merely 'tricking' the gullible human mind into thinking they're getting something! You're NOT getting anything!!!

The main reason to play multi-race bets like the pick-4 is because the takeout happens just one time, as opposed to 4 times on a parlay bet.

In the case of four $10 winners, a $2 win parlay has a takeout (using 16.0% for example) of $49.92. The takeout on a $2 pick-4 wager on the same runners is anywhere from 40 to 56 cents.

You have to be brain-dead to think that the DIFFERENCE between 40-56 cents, when measured against nearly fifty dollars, is going to bring big players into the pools!!!

Ellis Park PROVED THAT beyond any doubt - they killed off the supposed great idea after the committed period of one season was over.

Only the minnows and the little dimwits leaped into the pools, the sharks sat back and laughed at it!

Furthermore, the tiny takeout reduction only matters to those who HIT the 1-chance-in-1296-to-10,000 wager.

This is a STUPID race track marketing ploy, and only the gullible buy into it!!!!!

If you want to encourage someone to make a difference, then get them to try show wagering at 0% or something... THEN see who comes to the party when the move is significant.

Ellis Park's promotional 4% takeout was akin to having a ""$20,000 guaranteed pick-4 pool"" AT DEL MAR or the like. The track GIVES NOTHING, yet tries to ACT as if there is something significant going on.

Anonymous said...

I played this bet. The poster above looks like he understands numbers, but the empirical stuff shows he is off base. This bet is a success as a marketing tool here.

Anonymous said...

Of course takeout only matters to winners. That's who pays it. And it's far from incidental. Take these two scenarios: One pick four has a five percent takeout; the other a 20% take. The gross pool is $100k. There are 10 winners. In the first case each wins $9500, in the second $8000. that is hardly an insignificant difference.

Anonymous said...

After serious consideration, I'm not a fan of just reducing the takeout of one bet at one track. All that does is maybe get bettors to bet that particular wager, but it does nothing for the overall goal to grow horse racing by getting new players involved.
This will only happen if there are across the board takeout reductions at a multitude of tracks.

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