Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wednesday Action

Here are a few things catching my eye today:

Question: How do you increase your ADW's handle by about $1.4 million in a flash?

Answer: Give your customers a quick $280,000 by depositing it in their betting account.

That's what did recently, to pay back the NYRA takeout snafu. Expect this week's betting to look a little higher than usual, with any churn rate approaching 5. This is a de-facto takeout decrease, or a takeout decrease via rebate. That's how it works, and that's how it ups handle.

On the flipside, it was announced yesterday that Hollywood Park's handle was down. Everyone seems confused, like it's a mystery. Jeff Platt from HANA tries to unravel it, like a modern day Columbo. Ok, ok , I kid.

The North America Cup elims are drawn and if you've seen a better, deeper two races for the Cup, please point me to them. Sure Warawee Needy or Sweet Lou could run away with it, as they are supremely talented, but horses like Rock n Roll Dance, Time To Roll, HKC or Thinking Out Loud would likely have all been chalk in many elims this decade.

Apolitically, I think recall elections were made for another time. If you are a politico and you piss off some powerful factions, by making tough decisions, it's easy in the Internet age to gather signatures to try and get him or her booted. Watching last night it dawned on me how easy it is, and how ridiculous it is (the recalled dude won by more votes than he did in the original election), at the same time. Then I think of racing. We've lost about half our handles. We've gotten killed the last decade. But when I look at the who's who at various tracks and horsemen groups, it's often the same people. Does anyone get recalled in racing?

I researched a piece for HRU this week on 'lack of effort' by riders in different parts of the world. It's eye-opening. The policy of protecting the customer in some jurisdictions is there, and it makes for a better business - for both participants and bettors. We don't do that in North America; maybe because we were a monopoly and didn't have to, maybe because horsemen groups have too much power and hate change, maybe because slots are here, so who cares about customers. I don't know, but there is a disconnect.

From time to time I have seen strange information on takeout. I saw it again last night on a chat board. Some think if takeout was 5% in 1906 and it's 23% now, going up by a factor of 4.5 is less than the rate of inflation, so it's a good deal.  It amazes me how many times I see it. There was a funny line on about it, namely if takeout was geared to inflation, it would be around 184% now, so if you cash a tri for $1000, you owe the track $1840, creating a disincentive. I laughed pretty hard at that.

Windsor Raceway is finished, and now Fort Erie follows suit. It's a sign of the times in Ontario, and no matter what you think about this business, slots, and all the rest, it's a sad day. That was a storied track, and a beautiful one, with many memories for horsemen and long time bettors. We'll likely see six or seven others follow suit within the next 24 months.

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