I was over at my brothers house the other day, and he showed me his keepsake Daily Racing Form from Secretariat's last race, which was at Woodbine in 1973.
Incidentally, that was the first day I started selling racing forms. I was 12. Sold around 300 forms before the first race, got paid peanuts, and spent the rest of the day in the dining room (my mother was a regular and had a table).
Back to the the old form. Takeout information was in the charts. Eureka. So here are some findings from that form and a few Breeder's Cup forms I have kept through the year:
Woodbine's takeout in 1973 was 17% for all bets. 9 1/2% went to the track (for the track and purses), 7% went to the Provincial government, while another 1/2% went to the federal government. Back then, there was a daily double on the first two races, and 3 or 4 exactors on each card...that was it. Money was churned a lot more efficiently back then, that is for sure.
I'm working on finding some info from the 80's or early 90's, because lots changed from 1973-1996. I'm not sure when takeout on exotics shot up, but they certainly did.
One huge change happened the year Woodbine hosted the Breeders' Cup in 1996, the Ontario government dropped their cut on bets from 7% to only 1/2%. But takeout only dropped a bit on WPS that year. The takeout back then was 15.2% on WPS, 26.7% on exactors and doubles, and 28.7% on triactors and the Win 4. The federal tax was up to .8% from .5% in 1973 (today, the combined tax the government retains is still 1.3%).
In 1998, I notice that WPS was up to 16.2%, while other bets remained the same.
Woodbine got slots in 1999, but there was no immediate relief for the Horseplayer. Even with a cut from the government and slots, Woodbine (and Fort Erie for that matter) didn't even try to cultivate its horse racing customer.
I have some data on Fort Erie from 1999. 17.2% on WPS, 28.7% on triactors, and 26.7% on doubles and exactors.
Somewhere between 2000 and 2001, Woodbine finally made a significant move and dropped takeout in exactors and doubles to 20.5%. Fort Erie never followed suit.
WPS was up to 16.95%, triactors were 28.3%, and all other bets were 26.3% at Woodbine.
The only other changes that have happened at Woodbine since 2001 was a short experiment in reducing the Win 4 to 15% for a couple of years. It was raised back up to 25% on the hush. Just over a year ago, Woodbine reduced takeout on triactors from 28.3% to 27%.
Fort Erie hasn't changed much since 1999. WPS is now 16.95%, while triactors are 28.2% and all other bets are 26.2%. And they wonder why they can't grow their business?
Some other takeout rates from 1999. Aqueduct: WPS 15%, Tris/P3s/P6/Supers 25%, all other bets 20%. Gulfstream Park: WPS 15%, DD Ex 20%, All other bets 25%. Keeneland 16% on all bets. California A tracks had takeouts stay the same except they raised 1/2% in 2004 on exotics, and recently apparently just blew themselves out of the water by raising takeouts on exotics 2-3% at the beginning of this year.
For an up to date chart on track takeout click here.
Speaking of California, predictably Santa Anita is looking to rescind
Personally, I get as much of a rush these days looking at the end of the day handle from Santa Anita and Golden Gate while comparing it to last year's handle, as I did betting their product (I stopped the day the bill was signed by The Terminator to raise takeout). Maybe David Israel is right, horse racing is entertainment (at least when you aren't betting on it).
Lately, especially since the impact of the Mid Atlantic Co Op can be seen (last year, Santa Anita wasn't on their menu until January 22), handle at Santa Anita is consistently down every day anywhere between half a million and close to $3 million (last Saturday).
Meanwhile handle from Tampa Bay has been amazing. Management there should send the TOC and CHRB a huge thank you letter. For example, on Saturday, they did over $8.2 million in handle compared to last year for the same Saturday and same amount of races when they did $6.7 million. I don't think Woodbine does anything close to $8 million on their biggest days.
Andy Beyer has a new article out about Microbets. The two pluses when it comes to making fractional wagers on supers, etc. are that it allows smaller players to participate better when it comes to chasing big payoffs, and most importantly is the tax advantage (a lot less winning bets are subject to withholding tax which takes money out the system that could be churned back).
Canadians don't have to worry about withholding taxes, thankfully, but it is no reason to have such high track takeouts.
I especially like Beyer's line..."Gulfstream promoted the Pick Five by offering it with a takeout of 15 percent (compared to the extortionate 26 percent it takes from trifectas and superfectas."
One negative when it comes to microbets is that they entice Horseplayers to usually higher takeout bets. Some the same money that used to be churned at lower rates in WPS or exactor bets (which usually have lower takeouts) is now being directed to superfectas which typically have higher takeout rates. This generally moves up the blended takeout rate that Horseplayers now have to overcome, which at the end of the day, makes a bettor go broke quicker than before.
The other negative is that Americans betting through and American based bet taker cannot play microbets offered in Canada, and visa versa. With the Canadian dollar and US dollar close to par, this rule needs to be dealt with. It really gives the local Horseplayer an unfair advantage, especially when allocating dollar wagers on possible pool shot combos or split pool shots that can be had for 10 or 20 cents.
For example, Woodbine offers 20 cent supers and Pick 4's, but Americans have to play them with a $1 minimum and Canadians betting through HPI or at Canadian tracks or simulcast centers can't make microbets on US tracks.
This includes the Gulfstream Park new Pick 6, which Beyer calls a suckers bet. I think Beyer is missing the point in that this bet can draw fringe Horseplayers to bet on a card they wouldn't normally bet, and more importantly possibly entice slots and lottery players to cross over to the "dark side."
Any hoot, it looks like Andy Beyer has officially coined the term microbet. I like it because I was very uncomfortable using the term "fractional wagers."