16 April 2008

Free Advice For WEG's New Director of Marketing and Communications.

Woodbine Entertainment Group today announced the hiring of a brand new Marketing and Communications Director. Probably has something to do with their abysmal start to the 2008 thoroughbred season as far as total handle goes (I'm speculating).

His name is Paul Lawson. At 47, he is the same age as me (not that this matters). He has some experience in the industry from at least a harness owners standpoint. But then again, David Willmot has tons of experience in that area, and we know how ugly his reign has been (at least, when it comes to the bettors...umm, the customers). Thanks to leading edge technology, horseplayers can lose their money much faster than ever before. But it works against growth, as long as takeouts remain ridiculously high.

First, an encouraging quote from Lawson:

"It's all about the customer," said Lawson. "The better we understand them, the better we can attract new participants to the sport; elicit greater participation from occasional fans and, most importantly, satisfy our core players."

Now for the free advice to Mr. Lawson:

If WEG does not drop track takeouts to the level of Keeneland, you have just become the NEW FALL GUY. Not an enviable position. You may know how to market drugs. But people need pharmaceuticals for a better quality of life. People don't need to gamble on horses through HPI.

What brings new people (potential regulars) to the game, is the opportunity to at least break even, or even better, make money over a long period of time.

If there is no buzz from REAL WINNERS, there is no chance to hook enough fish. The REAL WINNERS, and those who at least have an honest chance to break even, are not betting very much through their HPI accounts. They are betting with Betfair and offshore rebate shops. Simple.

Woodbine's ridiculously high track takeouts makes it impossible to even think about winning through HPI.

And we are now in the information age. Anyone now can do just a little research to find that rebate shops are the only way to go if you want to have a chance to beat the horses.

I know people who beat the horses. None do it through HPI. I know people who win consistently at Betfair and online poker too. I don't know any long term winners who have done so with an HPI account.

And long term bettors, your core, are only waking up daily to this. One thing Woodbine hasn't done is COMPETE. They think they are a monopoly. They are far from it.

If you want to understand the bettor, you need to understand that most of us do some to a lot of work preparing for a day of betting. Why do the research if there is no light at the end of the tunnel possibly? Woodbine has the 6th highest track takeout in all of North America. Slots have done nothing to help the core bettor in Ontario.
In fact, it has taken away the dumb money that gave players a chance to win prior to when slots came about.

These players who do the research have now done some research on the internet. Not good for Woodbine. Not good at all.

There is no research needed for a slot player, yet the house take on slots is 2 to 2 and a half times lower than what horseplayers betting through WEG have to overcome.

Who is going to bring new players to the track? Not me. I'll refer them to go elsewhere. I used to bring them to the track, but that was before Beyer figs showed up in the form (even before the slots), taking away another edge that bettors like me had.

It has gotten progressively worse and worse for anyone with half a brain to even ride out a card of racing (betting 3 tracks) with a modest bankroll these days. Yet takeout has increased over time.

My blog isn't going to help your job either. I'm informing more and more players each and every day. I get lots of hits from Google searches.

Google "Woodbine thoroughbreds." My blog is the the second match after the Woodbine Entertainment website match.

Google "Woodbine takeout." You'll find my blog is the first match for this one. I get quite a few hits for this match.

If you don't lower the takeouts substantially, get ready to write a press release by June : Woodbine forced to drop purses because of dramatically lower handles. Willmot blames Betfair and offshore houses for the continued decline.

Exchange betting will help you big time, only if you compete equally with Betfair. Woodbine has shown me so far, that it doesn't understand the definition of the word COMPETE.

Mr. Lawson, hopefully Woodbine will allow you to do your job by giving you the ability to COMPETE for the customer (including the core customer that they are losing on a daily basis). That is your only chance at succeeding in your new job. Good luck.

For additional help in knowing todays customer. Check out the Pace Advantage Forum.

UPDATE: Keeneland announced they are down 17% in handle over the first 8 days. There are quite a few reasons for this. For example, last year, there was tremendous anticipation over the inaugural Poly meet, and Polytracks have since turned off a lot of players.
Still, they are doing over $10 million a day in total handle. 5 times as much as Woodbine did on their best days (Saturday and Sunday).
Betting on horses are facing an overall decline. The dinosaur method of ridiculous track takeouts has made it nearly impossible to attract new players. As core bettors are literally dying, they are not being replaced. And the price sensitive bettors (most of them are large bettors) wagers have left the mainland.


Anonymous said...

Did you notice that Keeneland's handle is down 17% so far this season? Take-outs are a problem in all of racing right now. Racing has to do something to stop this down world spiral. All tracks are currently affected.

Anonymous said...

Keeneland has the lowest takeout in North America, and they still get huge action, but the 17% drop off has to do with the track being very hard to beat coupled with what could be a very down year for racing all over North America.
And yes, it is all about takeout which has caused relatively few new players to be created over the last few years. Players have left and/or literally died, and haven't been replaced because there is NO BUZZ that the game is beatable anymore.
The game is on par almost with blackjack in the amount of plays you can make in an hour (ok, maybe half of the plays), yet the house take in blackjack is 1.5%, the house take in horse racing is pretty much around 20% on average.

The game is broken, the old model does not work anymore.

Anonymous said...

I think this is an opportunity for you
(Cangamble) to educate this new Director
of Marketing and Communications.
One idea, maybe a one on one
meeting to inform him of the
salient or pertinent facts relating directly
and significantly to the matter at hand.
Thanks for all the hard work you do
on behalf of bettors.

Sly Fox

Anonymous said...

Sly, I'll welcome any email from the new Director.

Anonymous said...

free bet

i think that its partly due to the global economic recession we are at

Anonymous said...

Laurel handle was down 20%

Anonymous said...

Freebet, you are probably right, but then again, Betfair and online poker sites are still growing each day. The public has become way more price sensitive collectively.

Anon, the industries dinosaur model when it comes to outrageous takeouts is busted. The public is wide awake now(and yes, anything higher than 15% is outrageous)

Anonymous said...

Whoever owns this blog, I would like to say that he has a great idea of choosing a topic.