WEG's Jim Lawson Interview Shows Where the Customer Stands

In Dave Briggs' piece on TRC today, Seven reasons Woodbine might have a bright future were examined, through an interview with WEG's head honcho Jim Lawson.

Almost three years ago now Woodbine and racing in Ontario was given an ultimatum: Bring in more customers, or else. From the Chair who was running Horse Racing Ontario at the time:

"Everyone, collectively, has to think about how you attract bettors and customers to the track and regain interest in the industry. I said this yesterday: two years ago if we had one of these (industry consultation sessions) I don't think we would have heard 'customer' or 'horseplayer' mentioned. It would have just been about how much money there was and how we were going to divide it up."

So, at least some of these seven reasons were likely customer related, right?

Here is the only snippet in Dave's piece where the customer was mentioned.

"Higher commissions imposed by the Breeders’ Cup forced Woodbine to increase its takeout rates for the day, which, despite being well-publicized, rankled some of Woodbine's customers."We were faced with some tough decisions. Do we not carry the Breeders’ Cup, which our customers would not have appreciated? Do we go ahead and take a loss? To me there’s something terribly wrong about operating a business of this size and having a Breeders' Cup weekend where we’re going into it knowing we’re going to take a loss on the wagers, or, thirdly, do we try and increase, at least for the day, our pari-mutuel commission takeout? That is the route we took and had to take in order to avoid a loss on those pools."

There you have it. The only time the customer was mentioned was when Woodbine increased the takeout rate on them.

Four years ago many people in the province held some hope for the sport, from the customer demand side. That hope has been replaced by the same malaise and frustration that has plagued the customer base for decades. The simple fact is that nothing has changed. In fact, if you are a customer of the sport in Canada, it might very well likely be the worst it has ever been. No exchange rate driven handle increases can gloss over that.

1 comment:

ron said...

I'm starting to think takeout barely matters. All of the big bettors are getting big rebates so they're good.Stronach tracks have killed rebates for smaller players and gpw handle has sky rocketed. Tvg offers no rebates and their handle has gone up. Tracks all across the country have increased signal fees yet handle is about the same. I've come to the conclusion the regular player has no chance to get a fair price unless he bets the minor league tracks where the odds are meaningless until the horses leave the gate.


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