Thursday, March 18, 2010

Purse Pooling Long Overdue

A story in the Guelph Mercury today shows that purse pooling - slot racetracks getting together to use slot fuelled purses for a better sport and game to bet - is gaining some momentum. Advocates of working together with this money (which will not be here forever) have felt this has held racing back in Ontario for a long time.

The poster boy for purse pooling has been Woodstock: "Woodstock’s total 2009 purse structure of just over $3 million produced a per-card average of $114,000 and yet the average bet, per card, on the races themselves was just 10 per cent of that — $10,469."

To make matters worse - as if having 114k in purses for a 10k bet is not bad enough - the high per race purse at Woodstock did very little for small stables, looking to race some horses. Super-stables would swoop in with Woodbine horses, be 1-5 and take the bulk of the slot cash. This also caused a problem for our flagship track in Canada, because good horses were not racing there, they were racing at some of the small tracks. This has gone on for years; good horses racing in front of nobody is flat out crazy.

Here on the blog and elsewhere we (and bettors) have argued for them to get together and work a plan with this money, to grow the sport. It is simple common sense: Put caps on purses, claiming prices, money given out per card at the small tracks by some mechanism and make them the "mom and pop afternoon grassroots tracks", and siphon slot money that is needed to other main tracks where people want to bet.

I think it was first proposed in about 2003. Better late than never, I say.


Cangamble said...

I don't think purse pooling should include Woodbine and Mohawk, but other than that, it makes sense.

That Blog Guy said...

There is a certain logic to what is being suggested. Unfortunately, this will never happen in the United States. First of all, in Ontario there are sixteen tracks being represented by a two or three horsemen groups. The money stays in Ontario.

In the States, the tracks are spread out over 18 racing states with different horsemen groups. The 'have' horsemen groups will not be interested in sending purse money to 'have not' states; nor will the different states allow it.

This is not in the states alone. Could you see Ontario tracks send purse money to the Maritimes, Alberta, Manitoba where purses are very miniscule? It would never happen. Yet, that would work the best for Canadian racing.

Pull the Pocket said...


For slots tracks in the states all I would want is a break on the 34% superfecta takes at some of them.

PS: The Chester-Meadowlands problems are about the same as the Georgian-Woodbine dynamic here. I still have a win picture from Barrie Raceway on my wall - $800 for a nw2 win. I have another one recently from Georgian (which as you know is Barrie Raceway) - $9000 for a nw3/cd race.

eric poteck said...

No question the slot funding model needs to be re-evaluated.

The industry needs to decide if the best use of slot revenue is to act as a subsidy to horsemen, or to promote wagering handle, which in turn will ultimately benefit horsemen.

The current model is failing on both accounts!

If you believe slot money will not last forever, the only logical solution is to use slot money to promote wagering handle....

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