2 June 2010

Can The Horse Racing Industry Get Together On Payoff Prices?

Yes, we all know that horse racing is one of the most dysfunctional industries on this planet today. Different State and Provincial laws don't help. Drug A is allowed in some States but not others. Some jurisdictions have new whipping rules, others do not. The list goes on. But can't racetracks agree on the way they report payoffs?

Guessing at what payoff prices or probable payoff prices are based on, are yet another needless inconvenience that horseplayers have to deal with.

Whether you are looking at the payoffs on TV from the direct Delaware feed, for example, which doesn't state the base used for Pick 3's and other exotic bets, or whether you are betting at your favorite ADW and looking at the results or probables, bettors should not have to do research to figure out what they are looking at.

How hard is it to get all racetracks on the same page on this one little thing? Does it take a Central Organization to be created first? Can Equibase perhaps get it done, or does the Horseplayers Association of North America have to save the day on this one?

An informal survey was started at Pace Advantage.

The question: How would you like to see all tracks report their payoff prices?

To date, one can see from the results that there is no consensus on what is most desirable and this could be the cause of the problem in the first place as various tracks are owned and run by a whole slew of different individuals and entities (not too many that are in tune with the customer base, I might add):

1.All Payoffs Should Be Based On $2 Wagers 20 27.03%
2.All Payoffs Should Be Based On $1 Wagers 15 20.27%
3.Whatever The Minimum Is For The Bets 22 29.73%
4.$2 Payoffs For WPS, EX, DD, P6 $1 for all other bets 10 13.51%
5.I don't really care 7 9.46%

Basing everything on $2 wagers leads to misleading prices on supers and other exotics where the pool might have been won with a 20 cent ticket.

Basing everything on $1 wagers leads to problems when it comes to $2 minimum bets like California Pick 6's or Moutaineer Daily Doubles. And of course, $1 WPS payouts won't fly with most bettors, at least at first.

Using the minimum bet is probably the idea that makes most sense. Almost everyone, if not everyone, knows when a 10 or 20 cent superfecta is offered, regardless of whether they had a $1 ticket or a dime ticket.

The fourth option is good as well. Historically we know bets are reported on the basis of $2 for WPS, Exactors and Doubles. And if everyone was on the same page regarding $1 Superfecta, Triactor, and Pick 3 payouts, it wouldn't take long for this method of reporting to be accepted.

I think any of the methods above, if announced, would be acceptable. But one thing is for sure, the way it works now is a complete pain in the butt for most horseplayers.

Bet Night Live On The Score

I'm in a giving mood today so I'm going to sort of help promote something *gasp* Woodbine is doing.

In an effort to get more people (especially young people) interested in betting on horse racing, they have tweaked their show on the Score to be more focused on betting horses.

I caught a bit of their harness edition on Monday night. I think adding Laura Diakun as a main host was a good move. She is cute enough to keep at least a few males interested in what she has to say.

It was a pretty good move to do a story on Serge Savard as well, since The Score obviously attracts a lot of hockey fans. We'll probably see a feature on Rod Seiling and whats his name, the guy who used to score lots of goals for the Maple Leafs and was also a regular bettor at Woodbine on his days off....oh yeah, Eddie Olczyk.

The contest they have is also a good one. Each Bet Live race night, horseplayers can bet $6 per race (in races 2 through 5) in an effort to win a $600 Grand Prize.
The $6 is actually bet into the pools, and it can be wagered on any betting type (I didn't read the rules completely, but the way I see it, that means Pick 3's and Pick 4's as well, which could cause a problem in declaring a winner before they go off the air). UPDATE, apparently the rules state WPS, Ex, Tris or Supers.

Another foreseeable problem is that the winner each night could be someone who just plays triactors. And lets face it, for newbies that could be very intimidating. And how long before newbies do an internet web search and find out that the TRACK TAKEOUT ON TRIACTORS AT WOODBINE IS A MIND BLOWING 27%?

One thing they are doing is funding each new HPI account with $24 to play the game first time around (for new customers only). This should attract a new customers.

But of course, the biggest problem is keeping the new customer, and getting them interested in playing the game long term. And this is just impossible thanks to high takeout rates. You need winners to entice today's young crowd. That is why Betfair and online poker have shown enormous growth.

There has to be a reason to learn how to pick horses and bet them. The game has to be perceived to be beatable, and false claims will not fly. There needs to be real long term winners, even if there are just a few. These winners will serve as a carrot stick for newbies.

Right now, there just isn't a reason for a potential new horseplayer to start up. Why should a person put in all the effort it takes to learn how to handicap and bet if they know they have no chance to win long term.

Horse racing is a great game. It attracts thinking gamblers, but along with the thinking, there needs to be an opportunity for long term victory.

Takeouts need to be reduced, especially at tracks like Woodbine and Fort Erie who clobber their customers with some of the highest takeouts in the industry.

To play in the contest, you need to enroll (only once for the year). Click here for details.

Woodbine Bias Report
Same old same old, though I'm noticing the rail is a bit better this year than last, winning jockeys don't really want to risk whether a bias is there or not.
Early speed still sucks at Woodbine most of the time.

Sans Sousi Appeal Denied
Last year, the day after the more humane whip was made mandatory in Ontario, Chantal Sutherland made a boo boo, and used the old whip.
Her horse wound up winning the race, however, two days later the Stewards disqualified the horse from purse monies.
I believe the ORC ruled correctly in this denial ruling. This type of thing probably will never happen again.
As far as the owners go, Sans Souci finally won the same condition earlier this year, so it could be argued that financially, they are more or less where they would be had Chantal used the correct whip in the first place.




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The_Knight_Sky said...

For tradition's sake a belated vote for $2 Win-Place-Show.

And $1 denominations for all exotics.

It doesn't matter if someone hits a Superfecta on an 14 1/2 cent ticket. Those instances are usually an exception to the rule.

$1 base reporting should be the common denominator.

FredF said...

This is a fantastic post and to answer your question in the title - I'm really not sure.

Anonymous said...

Just read the rules for that new contest Woodbine is doing on their network show - "Contestants will use the funds in their HPI account to make real Win, Place, Show, Exactor, Triactor or Superfecta bets".
I don't see anything about pick 3's or pick 4's unfortunately.

Cangamble said...

Knight Sky, what about $2 Pick 6's at Hollywood and other tracks?

Fred, maybe in this lifetime?

Anon, thanks. I'm glad they covered that. They should mention it in the broadcasts though.

The_Knight_Sky said...

Cangamble - I don't pay attention to the Hollyrock Pick 6. So I went to the results and DRF did report it as a $2 Pick Six payoff.

Please tell me that's not $2 minimum bet. If so, they're shooting themselves in the foot.

Cangamble said...

Many tracks have a $2 minimum Pick 6. Other than California, most of these tracks shoot themselves in the foot, but in California it has become an iconic type of wager. It usually gets $100,000 bet on it even without a carryover.

That Blog Guy said...

Here is a novel thought, instead of reporting Trifecta 3-4-5 pays $xxxxx, why not just report using the minimum, "$.50 Trifecta pays $xxxxx"? The problem is when they don't tell you the denomination.