No One Gonna Hit The Rainbow

At simo-centers across North America the following conversation probably goes on each racing day, as the Gulfstream Rainbow Six builds and builds.

Bill: "That first leg winner was 17-1. Maybe someone has a shot to hit it"

Bob: "No one gonna hit it"

Bill: "Second leg was 12-1. Maybe someone has a shot to hit it"

Bob: "No one gonna hit it"

Bill: "The third leg was short, but this fourth leg winner was 30-1. Someone is going to hit it"

Bob: "No one gonna hit it"

Bill: "See I told you. There are two horses not covered multiple times in the last leg. One at 99-1 and one at 90-1. Someone has a shot to hit it"

Bill: "You're right. No one hit it"

The Rainbow Six is a fascinating bet. It has high takeout, it has little chance of success for any horseplayer, but along it chugs. Why? Probably because it generates buzz, and adds a new demographic to the mix: The lottery player.

If there was a $2 million carryover tomorrow in a traditional Gulfstream Park pick 6, it would generate millions more in handle.

The Rainbow Six will bring in a few hundred thousand if that. Your syndicates aren't playing it. Your Alan Woods' (rest in peace) types aren't. Your $1 million dollar a year horseplayer isn't either; other than throwing a few dollars at it for some fun. The only time those types will play is on mandatory payout day, because then, and only then, it has a positive expectation chance.

The casual player who is under-served, along with the lottery player are playing it; and having some fun.

The bet is probably not great for churn. It's not great for the business as a whole because it does steal bettors bankrolls that could be used to play better bets, and other tracks, but it is good for a couple of entities: Gulfstream Park and the industry to learn from.

Gulfstream gets the headlines. A $2 million dollar pot for a "dime and a dream" does that. They also benefit from people looking at six races in a sequence, handicapping them, liking a few horses and betting a little more into those races. With a ten cent increment there are plenty of casual players front-loading and watching each race as it unfolds, which adds to it.  There are also folks who may have handicapped Laurel, or the Big M, or Aqueduct who don't, because handicapping cost is more than buying PP's, it's time-cost. This bet buys eyeballs for GP. And eyeballs, when watching racing, bet.

The industry as well can learn from this bet. We see a virtually impossible to hit bet, get bet. That tells you there is a demographic out there in North America who wants to play a lottery bet that's:

a) affordable
b) fun
c) with a giant pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

We spend a lot of time in racing asking state houses for slots. Our time, in my opinion, would've been better off spent working on a national lottery bet. If a Rainbow Six can generate several hundred thousand a day, get newspaper headlines and all the rest, imagine what a pot ten times that size promoted to people who love to play slots and lotteries could do for the promotion of the sport.

This is proven time and time again in Sweden. That's a tiny country who has a national pick 7 backed by the lottery system that can generate pots as high as $35 million, with a ten cent bet.

I have not changed my opinion on the Rainbow Six since I wrote about the one that started at Beulah a few years ago here on the blog:
  • Wagers like the Fortune pick 6 are here to stay and there is nothing wrong with that. But if we are going to promote churnless bets, feed those bets to a new market - the slots & lottery player. Gosh knows we have tried a million things to get them to play racing which has been met with a yawn. Hit them right where they want to be hit - with a quick pick chance at millions, that they can follow along with. The six race outcomes are like six cherries on a slot machine, only with horses racing around in a circle, just the way we like them. 
The only caveat I would add, is that if I were Gulfstream Park, I'd be not wishing for anymore carryovers - I'd want someone to hit this bet this week. "Impossible" bets lose their luster when they're impossible. The same people who chase the bet now who do not see hope, likely will think twice next year if so. There will probably be fewer "Bill's" and more "Bob's", and this bet needs lots of "Bill's".

Regardless, yes the Rainbow Six is a bad bet. Yes "no one is probably gonna hit it", but it can be used and modified to help more than just Gulfstream Park in my opinion. We just have to use our imagination, and make sure it doesn't get too "impossible".

1 comment:

Sal Carcia said...

I agree and disagree. I agree there are many lessons here for our industry and some tweaks might be useful. Where I disagree is where the players of this bet are coming from. I suspect that we are looking at an untapped small- to mid-sized player market as the mainstay of this bet. Lottery players have no access to or knowledge of this bet. It's a pent up demand among the smaller players to have affordable access and a fair shot to hit a big pick6. It's a fair shot because the syndicates and big players have not figured out how to dominate the play. As far as churn goes, I suspect the GP has added to their customer base and the other types of wagers benefit from this.


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