Horseplayers Are Creatures of Habit & Signal Fights Kill the Habit

Signal fights are in full force so far this season. The DRF reported today in "Multiple Contract Disputes Wreaking Havoc":
  • As with any quarrel, everyone suffers. Monticello Raceway and its horsemen are losing money. Drivers, trainers and the Illinois standardbred tracks are losing money. Fans and bettors are losing the opportunity to enjoy their favorite tracks. No one is happy.
The Horseman's rep:
  •  “Sometimes you have to fight for the future because if you don’t, you won’t have one.”
Everyone loses, that's a given, and horsemen have very few arrows in the arsenal to fight issues. It is what it is. However, racing, in my opinion, has missed the most salient point in signal fee interruptions and strikes on who loses most.

While horsemen and the track do not have a choice - i.e. the singal impasse will be settled, and the track will race and horsemen with a horse in the barn will enter him or her because that's their business - customers do.

Back in 2006, Hong Kong was seeing a flight of high value customers from racing to the casino's in Macau. This was not good for a number of reasons, of course. However, Vice President of Wagering for the Hong Kong Jockey Club Bobby Chang, knew just how bad it could be if left unchecked. Chang presented to the Asian Gaming Summit his plan to get these horseplayers back.

When telling the assembled folks his strategy, he leaned on a study he did regarding horseplayers being "creatures of habit". In a nutshell, when a horseplayer who is near break even or losing money lives without playing the horses for some period of time, they are of a high propensity to be lost forever.

You've all been there, or know people who have done exactly that. "I don't miss it", or "I can't get back into it, I've been handicapping sports now", "or I brushed up on my poker, and enjoy it".

He noted to the crowd that poker players or sports bettors are not like that. They can jump right back in after a break.

In Ontario there was signal fight after signal fight in the 2000's; some lasted months. Handle fell for a lot of reasons in the province, but one of which had to be the stops and starts with striking horsemen.

Horsemen and tracks will go right back to work when they are over, but for customers it's a different story. There is a percentage of them who will never return.

Signal fights are customer killers, and killing off your customer base is never a sound strategy.

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