Recently, I did a post on the Canadian Track Takeout Landscape. One thing that stood out is the very high track takeout the majority of harness tracks (and Fort Erie on the thoroughbred side) has compared to the rest of the industry, despite years of receiving slots revenues.
I am happy to see that at least one track has made a huge step in the right direction. Grand River Raceway, which begins their 2013 season tonight at 7:05 PM, has drastically reduced most of their track takeouts, and especially the ones that produce the most churn:
Win/Place/Show takeout rate reduced from 21.90% to 16.95%
Exactor takeout rate reduced from 21.90% to 20.50%
Daily Double takeout rate reduced from 21.90% to 15%
Pick 4 takeout rate reduced from 24.90% to 15%
These takeout reductions will help in two ways. One is to put Grand River Raceway on the radar with Horseplayers across North America. The second, and probably most important, is cultivating their live customer base. Gambling is 90%+ psychological, and even if gamblers are cognizant about rates (most aren't), they get pleasure when they bet, and the longer they can stay in action, the more fun they have. This is the main reason that slots, being so unbeatable, is so popular.
Begging players to show up at a live venue to support a track might short term, but if the fans don't get a proper gambling fix, the will stop coming. Racetracks need to realize that the entertainment they provide is gambling, and all gamblers/consumers are price sensitive, and now more than ever with the end of the slots revenue gravy train.
Reducing takeout in today's environment doesn't have to produce sensational results because a high percentage of wagers come from online bettors who are playing many tracks at once. Many of these players though are price sensitive and are likely to consider Grand River now. Bill Finley touches on the reality of takeout reductions pertaining the Grand River Raceway announcement. Finley did leave out the newbie cultivation angle, which I believe is very substantial.
On-track players, especially the casual ones who have the potential to become regulars and even large bettors in the future, tend to wager most of their bankroll on the live product, so someone who cashes a wager at Grand River will likely churn the money back on a Grand River bet, and not another track with a higher takeout.
Note to racetracks who think that marketing in ways that don't include price reductions (lower takeout):
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Also read: PTP's Racing's Price Evolution and Bettors To Get A Better Deal At Grand River Raceway.
Free Past Performances for Grand River Raceway are provided here, usually 24 hours before races begin.