Monday, July 5, 2010

New Bets - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It was announced this weekend that the $30,000 seeded Metro 6 Shooter has been cancelled. The bet, which required you to pick 6 winners at two racetracks, was fairly successful, but not successful enough to continue, according to the organizers.

New bets - especially hard to hit bets - are extremely difficult to make work. I figured I would give my opine on what went well, and what did not with this new bet.

The Good:

First up, they attracted about $40K a week on this bet. In harness racing this is very good. The $30k seeded was a good idea as well. I do not think we realize just how hard it is to get $40k bet into any harness pool, from scratch nowadays. Western Fair could offer a $10k guaranteed pick 6 tomorrow and would be lucky to have $300 bet into it. It's just the way it is. They got some punch.

Second, they marketed it correctly. They spent some money. They took the attitude racing has had for years (offer something out and expect players to run to it) and flipped that on its head. There were some smart people behind this, and it showed.

The Bad:

The first couple of weeks it was virtually impossible to find results. I found it personally hard to bet, and hard to follow. I remember the first night having no idea what it paid. Twinspires did not show the result, neither did HPI. It was like the bet was marketed mainstream, but the results were in a vacuum.

As well, having it at two tracks is very hard to make work. They did their best, but it is something that has long been difficult. Even the Magna Five, with only five races (all usually stakes races) which was marketed wildly to thoroughbred players, had difficulties. We're talking two harness tracks here, not Stronach-ville.

Last, while the bet was going on, and after it began, I missed not seeing a couple of things - pool size, and number of live tickets. Hollywood Park does a good job of this with their pick 6 branding.

The Ugly:

Two words, "no" and "carryover". If this thing gets a carryover or two, we are not having this discussion. With only $70k in the pools, with two tracks, there were three weeks that had one winner. The mathematics, with less than $100k bet at a one dollar increment, says that this should have carried over; but it is what it is.

Regardless, kudos to the people who put it on and tried. New bets are hard to make work, and you need to catch some breaks. At the very least, we learned something. Trial and error works for Amazon and Wal Mart. There is no reason to think it should not work in racing.

In my view, this is not the end, it is only the beginning. If we want to survive in the betting markets we should look for ways to improve this bet, and go to it.


Anonymous said...

Tioga Downs has a new $6,000 guaranteed Pick 6 on Sunday afternoons only. That harness track is even smaller but they've lowered their takeout to state-allowed minimums to it might be worth it to throw a few bucks at the wager.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad!!As a thoroughbred guy I found it to be an interesting bet. I was involved from the beginning and like "the flow" of it. The races came up quick and found it to be pretty exciting. Wonder why and average of $40,000 was not enough when the pic 6 usually draws around $3,000. Don't get it.

Anonymous said...

People underestimate how difficult it is for the track to make the seed money back on this type of bet. In this case, $700,000-$1,000,000 would have to be bet per week simply to recover the $30,000 in seed money. Woodbine did the same thing with the turbocharged pick 6 last summer. Unless lots of carryovers are generated and the seed money doesn't have to be paid out, these bets always get too expensive. It's too difficult to generate that much handle in a short period of time. These bets are great for the horseplayer, but horrible for the track from a bottom-line standpoint.

The_Knight_Sky said...

I'd file this in the "good idea, poor implementation" folder.

I thought this was a great concept, and I was hoping Saratoga and Monmouth would be able to work out a similar plan for this summer at a 15% Takeout rate. The Metro Six Shooter had a 20% takeout rate, not enough to cause the ripples as it should with the bigger bettors.

Furthermore this was a vehicle that drew interest in both racing cards across the river and probably stimulated wagering on the individual races involved in this Metro 6. The same way Monmouth Park is getting additional play on their races through the 15% Pick 5 and Pick 4's.

Pricing is the key. This one didn't quite have it. Like every new wager, I would have liked to have seen a longer test period, and with the summer racing season heating up, someone might be thinking "what if ?".

Cangamble said...

Knight Sky, if you take the seed money into account, and an average first night pool of $50,000 in new money ($40,000 net), the takeout becomes 12.5% give or take.
I don't think it was the takeout that killed this, it was the fact that they couldn't get a carryover.

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