Tuesday, November 26, 2019


Have you heard the news, the big, big news!?

Tampa Bay Downs is creating a brand new wager. It's a low denomination pick 6 and if one lucky bettor holds the only ticket, they scoop the pool. It's called a "Pick 6 Jackpot".

Why do these things exist?

I was reading a book recently called Hit Makers. In one section the concept of familiarity and human nature (and in tandem, business demand) was discussed.

For instance, there's a pop song writing school in Sweden, where invariably pop hits are rolled onto vinyl digital files like an assembly line. These songs have a perfect pattern - a pattern that works because they're all so familiar. You and I have heard many of them. They have billions of hits on YouTube.

We see the same thing in movie sequels, your Hallmark Christmas Movie fix - girl heads back to small town, meets boy, coincidences and love ensues, they have a snowball fight, and fall in love  - and just about everywhere else.

We, as humans, like something familiar, expect more of it, and cling to it.

In horse racing - with our relatively closed group of customers - it, in my view, is the exact same thing.

NYRA's graphics are familiar, and so is the pre-game show and betting menu. Do you want to double handle at Finger Lakes? Hire NYRA's brand and I bet you will. No change in product is needed.

We saw just about that same thing with CDI-owned Calder, when it moved to the familiar confines and looked exactly like the Gulfstream Park feed. In fact, they even used the Gulfstream Park name. Handle skyrocketed.

To our existing customer base, a pick 6 is a brand. It's a bet everyone loves, but even fewer (at $2 denominations) could play. Enter a pick 6 jackpot. For a price of a $1 pick 4 you can get coverage, play a bet you've always wanted to, and spread to your heart's desire. The fact that it's a terrible, awful, horrible gamble? Pretty irrelevant to that cohort.

Racing exists to shuffle the deck chairs, it succeeds in this micro, insular way when it stays completely familiar.

That's great for intra-track business, and we should keep expecting it. But on the flip side it's bad for growth. Outside the industry, gamblers find a game with jackpot bets unfamiliar. That might fit the industry's maddening harvesting business strategy, but therein lies the rub.

Have a nice evening folks.

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