"Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing"  - Red Sanders

This applies to sports, but it applies to gambling, too.

Smart people like Caroline Betts or Dan Ariely can explain it via a textbook, but we all know we live it in our (hopeful) common sense lives.

Winning is fun, losing, well not so much fun.

Casino's operate with this in mind. Sure the craps table is a bad long term bet, but the pass is only a 1.41% juice, and that 1.41% is a loser tax that is offset. You can sometimes (a lot of the times) win, which makes you feel good. It keeps you coming back. If you lose, the casino attacks that "bad" feeling at the same time with the action and fun of the table, and a free meal, free drinks or room comp. "I lost $100, but I drank about seven free Coronas". That makes you feel like you won. 

Trading the stock market is not dissimilar. Back in the late 1990's when the tech boom was going on, we all made money. I remember being at a friend's house and she asked me "how to do it". She knew nothing of the markets, but she heard everyone was "winning". She needed to be a part of it. This helped E*Trade more than any talking baby did, or ever will. Winning is everything.

What about lotteries, you might say? Lotteries are not about winning, and they never have been. No one expects to win the $300 million power ball. The winning with a lottery is the endorphin rush  from imagining what it would be like to win, linked inexorably with a tiny opportunity cost. It costs $1 and a trip to the convenience store; where you are going anyway because you are short of milk. All for a chance to own my own island? Winning!

This is why it is so silly when some insiders will say "The lottery has high takeout, and people play it." Ask a lotto player to drive 40 minutes to the Belmont lotto center, pay to get in, study lotto manuals that you've gained from a lifetime of learning, and see how popular the lottery is. We really need to stop mentioning the lottery or lotto players when talking about racing. From now on: Twenty lashes with a wet noodle. 

At a racetrack winning is everything, too. The industry knows this. I ran into an industry insider who monitors player behavior (he shall remain nameless) several years ago and he said:

"It is absolutely amazing how much people bet when they're on a roll"

They bet more because they are winning. ADW's knew this early on. They would offer daily rebates. If you lost, well, here's $100 back. You won, come take another shot.

Winning is everything.

What separates racing and craps is that the entertainment is not there for racing (I am sorry to offend anyone who thinks watching a 5 claimer at Mountaineer is akin to watching the Dodgers and the Giants, but it's true), and it can't offer free room comps to a stall on the backstretch.  A racecard is five hours, too, and to play racing it takes skill and a lot of know-how. This is why every handicapper you and I know have a stack full of books on his or her bookshelf.

It's a whole different ball of wax.

At the present time, the only arrow in the quiver that racing has to help with winning is using the rake. I wish there were others, but there aren't. They can't make you pick the right horse, or do a heck of a lot to make the game more entertaining where the masses will drive to the track or OTB, scour programs, bet money and be a student of the game.

Tom LaMarra on Twitter said this yesterday:

On track player reward cards with real money back, not a toaster or gym bag, is something we've pushed here and at wagering conferences for years and years. This is a good thing for Saratoga to do. 

Why? Because when you give people cash back through a rake reduction they have a chance to feel they're winning. Winning is the best marketing program on the face of the earth.


Scott said...

Amazes me how much difference there is in the wagering scene around the world. Rebates don't attract me in the slightest - perhaps it's the thought that I must lose to be eligible, not sure.

Having integrated pools (nationwide) with firm dividends not messed up by a $200 win bet at the death, trifecta pools that are liquid enough to genuinely pay the true odds 25,000/1 when the longshots run 1-2-3 rather than capped at the max because the pools are small, and then the big jackpots/rollovers on big races/meetings when the better horses/players are involved. The ability to bet on any race, any track, on the same continent (or even the world in 2013), on the same terms....

That's what grabs my attention and keeps it.

Pull the Pocket said...

Hi Scott,

...... Spoken like a UK resident :)

You can bet $200 on the three at Wolverhampton on BF at 8.6, lay most of it ten minutes later, and have a $20 long that realizes 12-1 odds, making the rake below zero.

We in North America bet $200 to win, pay 17% for the privilege and see our 7-1 shot go down to 7-2 at the half mile pole, owning a bet we never would've made in the first place, at an absolutely awful expectation.

In NA, all price sensitive bettors have to try and beat racing for a price break is a rebate. It's why you see them talked about here so often.



Carryovers Provide Big Reach and an Immediate Return

Sinking marketing money directly into the horseplayer by seeding pools is effective, in both theory and practice In Ontario and elsewher...