Betfair's first foray into America begins today in New Jersey. The betting exchange, which has been beta'd for a few weeks, has seemed to come off without a glitch.
Reviews from beta users have popped up - here's one that's a very good read - and I have heard privately from other newbies who have been more than interested in this (to them) new way of betting the races.
Racing in North America is married to an old system; exotics etc, so the learning curve is likely steep for many. In other parts of the world, where fixed odds wagering has been going on for centuries, this form of wagering was kind of old hat. Because racing's customers skew older, and change is something that isn't embraced, it will be interesting to see how many try the new system. That's really the biggest question for me.
As a user since 2003, I can without equivocation say, trying it is a no-brainer. I can also say, the pari-mutuel handle I have placed into Thoroughbred racing since 2003, is pretty much solely because of the exchange. It was easier for me to make money at, the bankroll swings were less, and it made me a much better handicapper and bettor. It made me an every day player.
If you are a New Jersey horseplayer who has had trouble keeping your bankroll afloat, I suspect a six month experiment with win pool betting would be a worthy goal (playing to win a unit, which is a % of your bankroll, works well for bet sizing). That's my 2 cents; for what it's worth.
Meanwhile, back in old-school North American racing, Churchill raised the ire of handicappers and commentators like Steve Crist, when they announced the new pick 6 rules post-Derby. Looking at some of the comments, there's almost a malaise, and a "how could they think this was right?" type narrative.
Jackpot bets are here to stay, and tracks are using them for a short-term fix; everyone understands that. But when you siphon money from the regular pools to place them into a near zero churn bet, locking up bettors bankrolls, it's an absolute farce, in my view.
Mike Maloney who knows the commission and the many people involved tweeted "The Kentucky commission [who allowed this change] should hang their head in shame" and "hopefully the new commission is not a rubber stamp for Churchill."
I don't know if Mike is a Republican or Democrat, but since he wasn't on the last two commissions I guess it doesn't matter. The sport needs people like him advocating for the industry in Kentucky in some position of power, instead of some who simply do not have the chops to stand up for growth, through their lack of understanding of pari-mutuel pool economics.
Kentucky Derby overnights are out and there's a real confusion out there on how ratings could be soft. The only thing I can come up with is that the Derby is an Americana event, and will bob and weave based on a number of factors. Evidently, one such factor is not the power of a Triple Crown winner.
I am always interested in the aftermath of events where something (handle, attendance, viewership) beats or misses expectations. Folks always want to assign credit or blame. In some cases, and I think this is one of them, there's no blame to go around. CDI has done well with the event, and it remains a slice of Americana on the tube each May, whether a few hundred thousand people found something else to do or not.
I caught the pre-entries for the Preakness and the first thing that jumped out to me is the speed. Nyquist, Laoban and Uncle Lino all can go like freight trains early. Although Nyquist is, in my opinion, ahead of those two on talent and ability, it does make the scenario for him interesting. Laoban is a horse who I think has a decent future, and seems to be getting better and better. He's got some chops.
Enjoy your Tuesday everyone, and for those in Jersey, enjoy your new betting experience. They don't come around very often in this sport.
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