Racing's Competition Excuse

I read with interest yesterday's Bloomberg piece on Hong Kong racing. Some of it was certainly perfectly good fact, but I found it a little doom and gloom; talking about 1% growth rates, n' all.

The fact is Hong Kong racing has seen a major resurgence since 2006 when handles were US$7.7B. Last year's US$13.6B was more than a 70% increase since the so called "great recession". If the same thing happened in North America, handle would be about $24B instead of its current $11B, and I don't think anyone would be saying we're doing poorly.

It doesn't mean there are no storm clouds on the horizon in Hong Kong, and the article rightly talks about them. But the bottom line is, despite massive competition, leaks in the betting pools on the interwebs and all the rest we see in Hong Kong, the product, and business, is very strong.

Soccer betting, for example, has been up leaps and bounds. But handle keeps chugging.

Meanwhile on the competition front, something similar is and was noticed in Australia with the introduction of sports betting. In 2000, sports betting was almost no part of the legal gambling landscape. In 2015 it made up over AUS$6B of business. Despite that, like in Hong Kong, Thoroughbred horse racing handle has soared.

Here in North America, 'the competition' is used almost daily as an excuse to why racing betting is losing out; why handles have fallen, why growth rates are negative. It sounds good, but to me it's just that - an excuse.

Horse racing gambling can be the greatest skill-based gambling game of all if it's done right. And in this day and age with betting from home, fast internet connections, innovative live betting feeds like Twinspires and others offer, lots of data, and lots of available races at a mouse click, there is - in my view - no excuse for it to be fading. Just because a few more people are betting the Final Four or Powerball doesn't mean racing as a betting sport is dead.  I think it's an excuse we let the power brokers get away with far too often, and it's a dangerous narrative to embrace as fact.

Have a great weekend everyone.

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