Friday, December 29, 2023

ADW & Distribution "Fixes" Aren't Complex, They're Made that Way

I think Mencken wrote "for every complex problem there's a simple solution that's wrong," and for the most part I think that's pretty sharp, especially when it comes to horse racing. We often, on twitter and elsewhere, reduce the complex to the simple, when the simple could never work. 

However, sometimes the problem itself is not complex, it's the system. And for those, the simple solutions can be the best fixes of all. 

I think most of the distribution problems in racing (i.e. ADW's) are mostly self harm, and for those there are some truly simple fixes.

One, the current practice of signal hoarding or side deals between tracks is a handle killer that's purely self inflicted. 

Big signals like those from NYRA and Churchill can be withheld from ADW's or are priced like a King's ransom for virtually anyone new. This shrinks the distribution end of the business, stuffs players into high cost, no rebate ADW's and the most perverse point - these players subsidize the teams. 

An "easy" fix for this clear - if you are a licensed ADW you should have access to every signal at the exact same price everyone else does. 

This simple solution opens up the market, and gives price sensitive players a place to play. Those players did have choice at one point, until this avenue was mostly closed due to these protectionist, short-sighted practices. 

This doesn't address the fact that the signal makers can still cut side deals with their own slice, but for the casual player it's a start. 

Once all signal fees are placed into an open market, the second fix happens - signal fees based on "blended takeout" goes the way of the do do bird, or for those born in post-Victorian times, New Coke. 

It's absolutely mind-boggling, with disparate bets and takeout rates, that signal fees are not based on these constructs. This fix could also pave the way for harder to hit bets moving up in juice, with lower to hit bets moving down, which would increase churn, theoretically at least. The market would become more efficient.  

Demonstrating more pain for a customer base is the self-harm the hoarding of replays has caused and that brings us to the third "fix" - a clearing house for replays, say via Youtube, is something whose time has come. 

Clicking an Equibase PP to a replay link and needing an account? 

Clicking a TimeformUS past performance for a replay and seeing "Sorry, the track doesn't allow us to show this thing you need for handicapping and to give us money" (I only partially made that quote up)?

Seriously, what are you thinking? The only way this makes sense is if you have a business goal to annoy people. 

Mencken's quote is probably correct in the broad context of horse racing. But why fixes like these aren't implemented isn't because the cookie recipe is too complex, it's that the cooks in the kitchen bake them that way. 

Have a nice Friday everyone. 

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