4 April 2009

Woodbine Opens Today: WEG Racing Execs Remain Delusional

Jane Holmes, VP of corporate affairs at Woodbine was interviewed by the Toronto Sun talking about online competition (which she refers to erroneously as illegal):

"We can't compete with them because, if we did, we'd lose our racing licences," Holmes says. "It's illegal. We can't offer the same opportunities."
Jane, you ignor... (oh never mind), but this is total BS. Rebates would be bet back, pools would go up tremendously, and you would attract back the price sensitive bettors from the other venues they bet at. Including attracting some poker players as well. Maybe the odd winner will be created, not the one in one thousand that happens to fluke a big superfecta or win 4 and happens to win in a calendar year. Winners buzz creates more players. That is why rebate shops do well, that is why poker does well. It isn't just the lower takeout created, but the fact that some people actually make money...and this is the best advertising a racetrack can have.
Impossible at Woodbine though, with a collective takeout that is amongst the 10th highest in North America.

What a self defeated attitude Woodbine has. They don't even try, except for the secret deals they cut some horseplayers where they give them a 7-10% rebate which may or may not be illegal.

Betting offshore is not illegal. I can invite an RCMP officer to my house and let him watch me deposit money in my Betfair account, and he can watch while I play. I would get charged with NOTHING.

The racing execs at WEG are a bunch of whining babies pathetically trying to hold on to their jobs.

Beverly Smith writes a completely etherized headline that is misleading to say the least: Racing strong despite weak economy.

Nick Eaves (a Norman Bates look-a-like), President and COO of WEG was interviewed for this piece. He gave the real reasons betting is supposedly up at Woodbine but then embellished embellished embellished to make it look like his company is doing something special.

Bets on live standardbred racing is up over 10% at Woodbine. Why? Simple, eight more racing dates (an increase of 15-20%, which should yield a 15-20% increase in betting, not just 10%). And betting is up on all sources by 19%. This was just a combination of a lot more dates overall, and most importantly the fact that WEG made an extra 25% on US bets just because of currency changes from early 2008 versus the first two months of 2009.

Now for the complete utter garbage part of the interview:

Woodbine is also finding, through its horse-player accounts, that some big bettors, who had left Woodbine years ago to wager at offshore operations, have returned to the Woodbine windows. "A few of those illegal, unlicensed operators have folded as the global economy has done what it's done and customer accounts have been frozen," Eaves said. "Customers haven't been able to get their money out."

Offshore wagering sites are attractive to bettors because they offer rebates of 8 to 12 per cent on wagers, but they don't have the costs that a racetrack has: paying out purses to horsemen, and maintaining the operations of a grandstand and backstretch. The racing industry calls the offshore wagering sites "pirates."

Even though some offshore sites still exist, Eaves said customers are "realizing that it's safer to do business with a land-based, accountable, licensed, tax-paying, regulated company such as ours."

Some big bettors have come back? That is deceitful at best. A big bettor who was getting a 5-12% rebate offshore would NEVER be attracted to betting through HPI unless they were offered at least a 7% "secret deal." These bettors have also helped move up the handle figures for the first three months at Woodbine.

Only a handful of offshore house have closed, and only a couple have tied up bettor's monies. I know many people who have no problem getting checks from rebaters, and never have had a problem.

Unless Eaves wants to call Youbet, for example a pirate, there are a handful of ADWs located in the USA that will take Canadian customers and offer them a much bigger rebate than the piddly amounts offered by Woodbine.

Though Woodbine tries to screw that up by getting American ADWs to sign deals that doesn't allow them to take on Canadian clients. In other words, they try to make sure that Canadian's only option is to bet into the high takeouts Woodbine offers its faithful customers. A few US based ADWs have made the decision to not sign the contract and therefore not put Woodbine on their betting roster, in order to take Canadian customers.

Woodbine races are difficult to handicap even if with a 10% rebate, so to many Canadians, it is no loss to not be able to bet on Woodbine. Some just bet Woodbine through HPI, but it is only a very small percentage of that type of bettor's action.

Eaves just doesn't get it. To grow Woodbine needs to reduce takeout across the board, or increase rebates across the board for all its customers. Maybe he does get, maybe the WEG execs are just happy with the status quo. But they definitely do not give a rats ass about the bettors.

I wish there would be one racing journalist who has the balls to ask Eaves about the secret 7-10% rebates he gives certain players. But I guess they all want to keep their jobs.

I tried to leave a comment on Jen's blog (she interviewed Eaves as well) about the secret rebates Woodbine offers a few players, but the moderator would not print it. All I can say is, I don't have such a policy on my blog. Feel free to blast away in the comment section. I don't moderate.

HPI might get around 10% of my action. Though I'm honestly embarrassed that it isn't 0%.


Ratherrapid said...

are you possibly the one that fails to get it. You mix in a few things that are probably true--e.g. Woodbine marketing execs clueless--followed by numerous questionable inferences. the post takes the position somehow that handle depends on whales, rebates and takeout, where the research that i've read (and unable to quote) shows that primarily handle depends on churn-- a continous stream of novice bettors that come into the system, stay a while, and exit within several months. While retaining those that are now lost plays a role, (and might with several changes play a greater role) I'm doubting catering to whales and pro players is the be-all-end all suggested here. an good debate though. Interesting post!

Cangamble said...

No, I am not trying to promote the idea that whales are needed, though today whales do make up a great deal of handle.
What I say is that all players should either get equal rebates or takeouts need to be reduced.
Handle means nothing in the big picture. What is needed for growth is more people betting, and yes, most will lose money, but racing needs to have a bigger amount of bettors and the only way that will happen is if the cost to gamblers is drastically reduced.

And yes, Woodbine caters to whales to keep their accounts. They'd rather not though.

railbirdbrad said...

I went to woodbine today for the first time in a year,it was nice seeing old friend's etc.i aso saw the dregs of society hanging around betting there $1,00 cartwheel's,ah i mean part wheel's,i sat outside as i saw the roar of the crowd which was rather abandoned in years past,since i play exclusively on Bet Fair,i made no bet's into Woodbines pool's.Sorry WEG your prices dont cut it as i can get 30% to 50% higher on your racing product.but thanx for your $2.60 small bottles of pop, good luck with that!

railbirdbrad said...

Speaking of the greg's @ wegs yesterday,it seems some bum's come in off the street and just sprawl in chairs to sleep,I guess they have no where to go,when security came to them the officers asked them,are you ok,the woke up and said yes,but they are far from ok,guess the security gaurds are just as lost as the head honcho's at weg.