Monday, April 2, 2018

Notes, Usability & Access (of Derby Pools) & Pari-Mutuel Reality

Good day everyone.

There's been a lot of chatter about sports betting of late. The if's, how's and why's of it in terms of horse racing were waxed upon here.

Knowing that horse racing (any gambling game) has two or more sets of customers, the article looks at how the seasoned professional types (like Charlie) will respond to sports betting at racetracks, or ADW's. For the more casual but extremely dedicated player, a snapshot of a poll on provided a look into that side of the game.

While larger players like Charlie could massively pivot into legal sports wagering, smaller players who love racing tend to be more mixed (50% won't play sports, 50% will play at least some). I think this confirms what most of us would believe.

As always, it depends on the juice, availability etc, and from what we've seen from governments in North America in the past with gambling, a positive business environment for customers is in no way assured. It remains a salient point, in my view - Charlie and others won't pivot for 15% takeout parlay cards.

The Masters is upon us, and it struck me how different I play it today. I have more information, faster internet connections, and I love the event as much as ever. But, because of usability and access to betting pools, my betting handle is in the crapper. At this point I have wagered about $80.

Ten years ago, through the betting exchange I'd have wagered 400% or more. After each event, when one of my targets would have a less than stellar week, I'd wager them on the drift, and come the start of the event I'd have my full book. At that point, my handle would surge as I would trade it until the final putt would drop. The lack of an exchange kills my handle.

In terms of Derby betting, CDI has invested hard in the future pools. But those are the same for me. I bet nothing, because I don't want to wager and be locked into a bet (especially at the rake). For sports bettors an exchange for the Derby would open up a whole new market, and possibly - within say ten years - it could be massive if done right. Would that help TV viewership, event attendance, branding of the event, and the overall bottom line? I think it would. It would for me, and I think others like Charlie. Most of us follow the Derby when, well, the PP's come out.

Regardless, exchanges are a non-starter for Derby wagering. CDI owns the Derby, TVG owns the exchange. Welcome to horse racing.

What has plagued the game, in my view, is being married to the system and the past. Access is important, and new tools should always be explored.

Speaking of that, one new tool that takes a lot of flack - and this was a discussion yesterday on the twitter - was computer assisted wagering. This type of wagering gets blamed for late odds drops, rebating, and the "killing of the game". I'm not going to get into a circular argument about what it does, or doesn't do (and the assorted hyperbole), but I think what people fail to understand is that it's a symptom of a game that is not modernized.

Pari-mutuel pricing is a mess. This is why rebates exist. Every time a takeout rate goes up, rebating gets more of a foothold, and round and round we go.

It frustrates me that some people lose their minds at rebaters, and at the same time make excuses when Keeneland raises the juice; or even worse, they try and sabotage a betting boycott. If you're carrying water for places like Keeneland and Churchill when they raise takeout, you're throwing your support behind computer batch betting and rebating. So, either climb aboard or don't bitch about it.

Late odds drops are a scourge of the pari-mutuel system, and it makes the game look mickey mouse, but they are reality. If a horse is 5-2 fair and is 5-1 with two minutes to go, money will come in to make the horse 5-2.  Bettors didn't get 5-1 because they were never going to get 5-1

That's how the system - in fact, the betting world - works. Money will come in to set a market. With 90% of the money coming in off track, and late, the market will be set late.

With a true system of fixed odds, or exchanges, horse racing would never have these issues. But, above.

Racing is stuck in a bog and we're not telling tales out of school. It's slow moving, it's high priced, it rarely explore new systems, or invests in them. When you're in a 1920's system, you get inefficiencies. That's a tough reality for some to come to grips with, but it's the reality we live in.

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