Monday, July 27, 2015

Lipstick on a Pig Ignores the Real Betting & Customer Issue

Darryl Kaplan wrote a piece at SC about the lack of organization in televising betting products at  OTB's. In this case, he speaks of the fact that at Woodbine, the televisions are all on higher bet simulcast products, instead of a Canadian product, and this hurts Canadian racing. This is not an uncommon thought; California Thoroughbreds often wring their hands about it, as does NYRA. Everyone wants you choosing their product.

But it's short sighted.

You could have every TV on the three tracks you want to push, it would make no difference in the long-run. No difference at all. The system, especially in Canada, is setup for failure.

Back in the 1990's. Ernie Dahlman was playing the races from New York, and scratching away a modest living. Higher and higher takeouts made the game harder and harder to beat, so he sought out and received a takeout break on his betting (in Vegas). Others followed and some sort of community emerged where you could beat the races, not only a race. That lower takeout environment was built on something that made perfect sense.

In Canada, this is not the case. Woodbine has started selling their signal to other ADW's in different countries, but as a condition of it, they have asked these ADW's to kick out all Canadian horseplayers. Horseplayers in the country, unless they are particularly savvy, have no choice. They can bet through the massive takeouts at HPI through Woodbine (sometimes being charged even higher takeouts from US host tracks), can quit completely, or bet offshore, in pirate pools. The environment to foster them as long term horseplayers - the one they were playing into for years - to keep feeding purses through betting each day, has been eliminated. For new players who might want to become long term players, there is no avenue for them to pursue this craft, like in poker or other games.

The great art of handicapping, the great goal of becoming a regular, everyday horseplayer, to possibly earn a living at, is now a pipe dream for almost all the country's 36 million citizens. 

Horse racing in Canada (with Woodbine's policies in particular) has created this. It's a grave error and one they should correct, but they won't. It's the way many organizations think in the sport, and with these organizations getting casinos, or slot parlors to subsidize purses, there is little hope things will change. In a generation they will wonder what happened. They'll just need to look into the mirror.

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