12 October 2008

Betting Down 10% For Third Quarter; It Will Only Get Worse

Handle dropped 10% in the third quarter, and it isn't going to get prettier. It isn't the economy either. When the economy was flying, racing was barely staying stagnant.

People have left the game, and they are not coming back. A 20% takeout is impossible to overcome in the long run. The only players with a chance are those getting rebates.

Competition has taken many players out. Slots took the dummies out, but at least slots has a takeout of less than 10%, giving the dummies a bigger bang for their buck than in horse racing. Poker and sports betting readily available on the internet has also taken out lots of money from the pools. Not only do these forms of gambling offer a bigger bang for the buck, the fact the house rakes are so low, winners can be created, and winners create more players, because there is nothing more rewarding for an everyday gambler than having an opportunity to be a long term winner.

Toronto's Daniel Negreanu has become a poster boy for winning poker players. Rising up from being a pool hustler as a kid to a high roller poker player. Why is this possible? You can become a winner if you are good enough at poker thanks to the relatively low rake poker offers gamblers.

I know people who make money consistently at online poker, and I don't know anyone who makes money playing horses, except for those who get substantial rebates.

Pull The Pocket Chimes In On Racing's Downfall

Not only are gamblers walking away, owners are walking away too as seen by the huge drop in sales prices this year and the increase in sales buybacks. Most owners start off as gamblers, even as $2 bettors. New people just are not coming around anymore, and it all boils down to the fact that betting on horse racing is one of the largest "negative expectations" forms of gambling available to the public.

John Pricci Gets It: A Stimulus Package For Lagging Thoroughbred Handle
"It’s called a tax reduction; lowering parimutuel takeout. Whenever and wherever lower takeout has been enacted, over time it’s resulted in increased handle--read revenue to all here. For the groups mentioned above, it’s a win, win, win, win. Less is more; a little smaller slice of a much larger pie."

Brains, vision and guts, based on positive past performances. What could be easier?

What is needed is for the industry to realize they are in crisis mode, and for all the major tracks to reduce takeouts substantially across the board.

HANA (Horseplayers Association Of North America) now has around 300 members, including some high profile bettors. The more members HANA has, the more bargaining power HANA will wind up with. If you haven't joined already and you are bothered by high takeouts and other issues, please click here. There are no fees involved.

Check out HANA's blog, and of course, the HANA website.

HANA's Mission Statement:

H.A.N.A. is committed to giving horseplayers a voice. By banding together we can bring about change and compel the horseracing industry do something it has never done: actually listen to its customers. By making them aware of customer needs and wants we can motivate track management and horseman's groups to reverse course and start doing the things needed to bring the game of horseracing back to the prominence and greatness it so richly deserves.

Pull The Pocket reports that HPI has added Bris stats (free for members) for thoroughbred races which will help aid their bettors in making decisions. Also added, Compubet stats for the harness side of things.

One of HANA's goals is for racetracks and ADWs to give out as much free information as possible to their customers. This is definitely a step in the right direction, but it really is meaningless for most players, who end up betting until they are broke. And with WEG's outrageous track takeouts and the "criminal" markups of takeouts which are lower than their own, this new information might just allow the average player to last one extra race a week, in the scheme of things. It won't create any long term winners which creates a buzz which creates new players.

Woodbine Doing Away With $1 Pick 7, Replacing It With $2 Pick 6
'Woodbine's Thoroughbred betting menu will include a $1 pick-seven wager for the final time on Sunday and will introduce a $2 pick six beginning Wednesday. If there are no 6-of-6 winners, 30 percent of the net pool will go to the best of six, and 70 percent carried over to the next card. The pick six will be on the day's final six races. The takeout is 25 percent.'

A $2 minimum is a big mistake. Woodbine is not California, where the Pick 6 has become like the 6/49 Lottery is here. The pools will continue to stay low for some time because most players won't fund a small pool when they have a very little chance of cashing. In California, the Pick 6 gets substantial play even when there is no carryover. It won't happen here. It might have a shot if the minimum was lowered to a buck.

Today, there is a mandatory payout of the Pick 7. The carryover going into today is over $33,000. I think it took over a month to get it up "this high."

Fort Erie has a new 10 pound bug boy named Mike Mehak. He has a few really live mounts today. Three Thirteen looks good in the 5th. Larry's Dream, also from the Cappuccitti barn is live in the 7th. And even Sneaky Dee has a shot in the 8th, though the distance may be a little too much for her.

Tampa Bay horseman/gambler found murdered
'Lawrence P. Higgins, 61, was found dead in his house....the death was a homicide, with "trauma to the upper torso," according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office....He also was a racehorse aficionado who told Bloodhorse.com that he bet more than $1 million a year on the sport at Tampa Bay Downs...."Last year he had 10 horses," Peter Berube (Tampa Bay GM) said. "I think he had scaled back some recently."

UPDATE: Higgins was a speaker at the recently completed Simulcast Conference in Florida. His views were printed in a Bloodhorse article:

Larry Higgins, executive vice president of the Tampa Bay Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and a VIP customer at Tampa Bay Downs, said there are four major areas that need improvement: information for bettors, integrity, accommodations for players, and a larger pool of bettors. Higgins, who owns Thoroughbreds, spoke from the perspective of a bettor; he said he wagers about $1 million a year at Tampa Bay Downs.



Anonymous said...

Any one catch the interview with Chantel Sutherland on sun tv on saturday, lol she couldnt put a sentence together,i didnot know that about her.well shes a great rider,she should just say thank you for the mount .She sounded like a bubble headed beach girl lmao.At least Elmer J wilson knows her horses.

Anonymous said...

Sandy Hawley Canadas greatest rider has to be one of the worst on air handicappers around,he picks horses off paper and they come on to the track sweating and nervous and he still picks them ,is he for real?

Anonymous said...

anon. 11:30am
I thought Avelino Gomez was Canada's greatest.???

Anonymous said...

Well Anon 7.29 you are as wrong as you every will be.

Anonymous said...

The downward slide will need to get much worse before the industry will make any meaningful changes. Tracks will need to close. Trainers will walk away from their owners. Owners will walk away from their trainers. Horses will suffer. Horseplayers will walk away period. It's called REALITY!
Meanwhile some study sanctioned by some racing-related group will announce that a new marketing plan is needed to increase interest in the sport.

Steve Zorn said...

Looking for a ray of sunshine....as I recall, horse racing did pretty well during the depression, when it was a relatively cheap form of entertainment. Of course, it didn't have the competition from the slots, poker, etc., etc.

NTRA, for all the bad they've done, is pushing a bill in Congress that would get rid of the ridiculous withholding on big wins. That's another way to kill churn, along with higher than optimal takeout. So write your Congressperson and maybe they can act on it whenh they come back after the election.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I agree the tax laws in the US hinder churn a bit. But we don't have that problem or excuse in Canada. Still, Woodbine makes sure that churn is down to minimum thanks to their ridiculously high takeouts.