Gambling Growth; "Banning" People from the Sport

The Olympics in Rio are slated to go in less than two months, and Russian Track and Field athletes are under a blanket ban due to doping inquiries. A window was left open, however, for athletes that can 'prove their innocence.'

In the U.S. there's a current discussion about putting people on a list who may or may not have done anything wrong and denying them a constitutional right. Some might find this similar. The big difference of course is that the Olympics is a club not a country.

Some may say horse racing is not a right either, but oftentimes the lines are blurred. A trainer may get caught with a drug program in full force, weeks later his son takes over the barn like nothing happened and the horses are allowed to race. "A right to make a living", the lawyers tell us; and they have a point, because racing's quasi-public/private relationship is real. 

To me and many of you, though, that's like banned Russian athletes training with the head of the doping program's daughter and competing under the flag of Togoland. It would never happen.

Racing is different, and always has been. It's why the sport has seen only marginal progress on such issues. 

Meanwhile, back at the Meadowlands, one fellow who doesn't much care who he offends or what he does - Jeff Gural - is trying to put a cap on such things. Jeff owns three tracks and bans people the sport won't or can't or don't want to, including beard trainers operating on behalf of the harness version of Togoland.

Just last week he banned his nemesis, Joe Faraldo, because of an alleged beard trainer shuffle. 
  •  “(Faraldo) has a lifetime ban. Last night (Friday) he entered two horses in the Billings that were trained by Richie Banca who is not allowed to participate at my tracks,” Gural wrote. “(Faraldo) put himself down as the trainer and looking at the program it was obvious that when he raced in New Jersey he put himself down as trainer and when the horse raced the next week in New York, Banca was back down (as trainer)… I thought this was a serious violation of our policies regarding drug trainers.”
Jeff Gural might rub people the wrong way; he might get under people's skin; some of what he does is knee-jerk. But he doesn't seem to care. That carefree attitude resonates with a lot of frustrated people in the sport of horse racing.

There's growth in them there gambling hills. 

The latest positive article involves "E Sports". In "How E-Sports Gambling Grows to $30B in Wagers by 2020" the writer notes:
  • Steady growth for already-significant skin gambling products mixed with a series of small booms on the cash betting side will combine to vault esports betting toward the upper tier of online gambling verticals by 2020. 
Recently, the NBA game seven anecdotally blew away gambling expectations, people are speaking of $5B (legally) or more bet on sports this year, almost a 100% increase since 2006. Daily Fantasy has done over a couple of billion per year despite being hammered by nanny-staters and seemingly everyone else; after doing virtually nothing in handle in 2011. If you speak with any Wall Street analyst they talk about the potential for gambling stocks over and over again.

This is going on while some people in racing argue about 1% drops or rises in handle, or if a takeout reduction brings in more or less revenue after a couple of weeks, (after 87 or so years of takeout hikes).

The mindset in Vegas with sports betting, or in esports or fantasy is all about growth, new markets, investment and innovation.  Racing's mindset seems to be stuck in poker subsidies or government handouts.

I don't think anyone is happy that in this environment with rising populations, with gambling becoming more and more mainstream, racing- which had a tremendous first mover advantage for so long, especially online - seems to have little or no response.

Enjoy your Tuesday everyone.

1 comment:

Scott said...

When you are stuck with privately owned tracks, and administrators who wouldn't know their arse from their elbow, or the economic principle of elasticity from a pie graph that tells them 20% of rapidly declining turnover is still 20%, then you are stuck with it.

Anyone for goat racing?


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