Moving Away from Racing 1.0 is Very Difficult

"It's not my job"
I've had a busy day here. I worked at a real job, I bet two races (1 for 2 with a positive ROI for the first time - in what feels - since the Bush administration), I chatted with a professor of finance about computer teams, takeout and pricing, scanned some releases on the RTIP conference and chatted with a couple racing peeps on twitter and via email.

For the racing side of things there seems to be a palpable frustration towards the business and its seeming unwillingness to change.


Today Tom LaMarra wrote a piece on social media and racing from a panel at the RTIP.

It was agreed we have to embrace it.

In 2008, Jessica, Alan, Dana (and others that you know from the blog) spoke about the same things at the NTRA conference.

It was agreed we have to embrace it.

Yesterday Caroline Betts, Phd and an honest broker reported to the industry that we need to find a way to lower takeout in a real, detailed, measurable way.

Some people said we have to look at that.

In 2007 on this blog, at numerous conferences, we said we have to find a way to lower takeout in a real, detailed, measurable way.

Some people said we have to look at that.

You get the idea.

At conferences we tend to talk a lot, but nothing ever happens.

At the Standardbred Canada conference in 2008 the amazingly capable and passionate Director of Biz Dev Darryl Kaplan, put forth several panels for change, a couple of which I spoke about and joined in on. Each panel of professionals included people from outside racing, the industry itself, bettors, and others. Each session presented a vision about things like social media, using television, putting bets in corner stores, jackpot bets, lower takeout, exchange wagering, and a few other marketing initiatives. Virtually everyone agreed that these things needed to be looked at, built upon, and done.

Not settling for just talk, Darryl created working groups for each item, brought aboard professionals from all stripes to work for free and built a plan. This was not going to be "just another talk fest".

After this was constructed, each group wrote a plan, and Darryl brought it to the industry. It would need some money to implement, so he tried to build consensus and asked for funding through a Wagering Initiative.

After two long years of hard work, everything that needed to be done was talked about, summarized and ready to roll.

The table was set for Racing 2.0 in Canada.

What happened next:  When it was brought up for a vote, the industry rejected it.

"Not at this time" was a familiar response.

It's easy to be frustrated with Racing 1.0 when we see conferences just talking about things. But it becomes palpable frustration when we find a way to do more than just talk and move racing forward, and it dies on the vine.

Racing 1.0 wins, and has won for decades. Right now, Racing 2.0 seems a long way off.


Teresa said...

I don't understand your frustration about racing saying it has to embrace social media. It has...and like other companies, it has to continue to do so, as new forms and structures evolve. But the landscape isn't what it was in 2008; I remember being on an NTRA conference call that year and being asked, "So how should we use Twitter at the Derby this year?" and the main suggestion - widely embraced - was "Let's get people to tweet their picks!", about the most enervating, mind-numbing use of Twitter there is. Things have come a long way since then.

I'll leave the takeout discussion to you. :)

Pull the Pocket said...

Hi Teresa,

The frustration in that one small part of the piece is that in 2008 we'll have a conference asking racing to embrace social media. In 2010 we have another one asking them to embrace social media and in 2012 we'll have another.

This goes on with panels on takeout, uniform rules, etc etc, each year.

We are generally devoid of ideas, so we rehash the old ones until we're blue in the face.

When a new idea does come up, like say exchange wagering did in one I was at in 2007, we say "that's too difficult" and move on to another panel extolling the virtues of using Myspace that we first saw in 2004.



Anonymous said...

Racing's social media "strategy" is a track having a Facebook page and using their twitter account to tell people about hot dog deals.


Pull the Pocket said...


Nothing wrong with having panels on best practices etc; they are a good thing.

I,too, however would like to see more "actionable" ideas. Social media needs to be intertwined, for example. Kind of like a social media in a box for all racetracks. The NFL has a strategy that encompasses all 32 teams. If someone, somewhere comes up with a plan for all tracks to be a part of a structure that's proven, works and on the same page due to one of these conferences, then it is much better than rehashing a lot of ideas - some of which will never be implemented.

My 2 cents.



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