29 March 2008

Free Dubai Past Performances and lots of news


Here is a link for a free PDF of today's card at Dubai starting with the second race. To me, A.P. Arrow looks like he has as much chance as Curlin in the $6 million World Cup.

Another free link that is worthwhile is Link2Tote. Not only can you get live odds for most North American tracks, you can also get European tracks as well as Dubai, and if you are so inclined, Greyhound, Harness, and even Jai Lai odds are also available.

And lets not forget the Freebie from Brisnet. Past performance charts for every Derby contender. With just over a month to go, there are still 130 pages of contenders (400-500 horses).

Power Cap reports that TVG is now offering their customers free past performances like Twinspires does already.

A new proposed unique rule in California is coming into the homestretch. The owner of a horse who has not raced for 180 days will have the option to race that horse in a claiming race without worrying about losing the horse in the claim box.

Read more here.

I understand the concept that this will give the owner of a horse who injured itself incentive to take their time bringing the horse back to the track. But at the expense of all other claiming horses and owners...I don't like it. What could easily happen if this rule comes to fruition, is that allowance horses and even stake horses wind up domination the lower claiming races in California. From a betting standpoint, you wind up with lots and lots of chalk, and I hate chalk.
Again, this rule goes against capitalism, which is a much needed element when it comes to horse racing, especially today, when the game is dying. Horses need to run for what they are worth so that more claiming occurs. More claiming, means potentially more new owners. This reminds me of the ridiculous B Allowance races that Woodbine runs that artificially protect horses from claiming that shouldn't be protected.

TIP Program Gets Approval Not to be confused with the HIP awards, the TIP awards will still allow owners to get bonus money even if they have the "audacity" to claim an Ontario bred. The TIP pamphlet is available at the CTHS website. Highlights:

$2,500 (winner only) When running in Optional Claiming Races
only horses running without a claiming price are eligible.

The CTHS Sales Credit and Owners Bonus Program at Fort Erie Racetrack’s top end claiming levels are as
$15,000 - $20,000 Claiming: $1,000 Sales Credit & $1,000 Owners Bonus
$7,500 - $10,000 Claiming: $750 Sales Credit & $750 Owners Bonus

Fort Erie Closed & Open Stakes:
1st place: up to $8,100 ($5,400 if not Ontario Sired)
2nd place: up to $2,700 ($1,800 if not Ontario Sired)
3rd place: up to $1,650 ($1,100 if not Ontario Sired)
Fort Erie Allowance winners: up to $3,000 ($2,000 if not Ontario Sired)
Fort Erie $20,000 Claimers: up to $1,500 ($1,000 if not Ontario Sired)

Grade 1 Open Stakes: (Includes Canadian Triple Crown, Filly Triple Tiara, Princess Elizabeth, Coronation
Futurity & Cup & Saucer)
1st place: up to $18,000 ($12,000 if not Ontario Sired)
2nd place: up to $6,000 ($4,000 if not Ontario Sired)
3rd place: up to $3,600 ($2,400 if not Ontario Sired)
Grade 2 Open Stakes:
1st place: up to $15,000 ($10,000 if not Ontario Sired)
2nd place: up to $4,950 ($3,300 if not Ontario Sired)
3rd place: up to $3,000 ($2,000 if not Ontario Sired)
Grade 3 Open Stakes:
1st place: up to $12,000 ($8,000 if not Ontario Sired)
2nd place: up to $4,050 ($2,700 if not Ontario Sired)
3rd place: up to $2,400 ($1,600 if not Ontario Sired)

Ungraded Open Stakes:
1st place: up to $9,900 ($6,600 if not Ontario Sired)
2nd place: up to $3,300 ($2,200 if not Ontario Sired)
3rd place: up to $1,950 ($1,300 if not Ontario Sired)
Closed Stakes:
1st place: up to $8,100 ($5,400 if not Ontario Sired)
2nd place: up to $2,700 ($1,800 if not Ontario Sired)
3rd place: up to $1,650 ($1,100 if not Ontario Sired)
Ontario Sire Stakes:
1st place: $6,600 ($3,300 if not Ontario-Bred)
2nd place: $2,200 ($1,100 if not Ontario-Bred)
3rd place: $1,300 ($650 if not Ontario-Bred)
Allowance: up to $6,000 ($4,000 if not Ontario Sired)
OSS Allowance: $4,000 ($2,000 if not Ontario-Bred)
B Allowance: up to $3,900 ($2,600 if not Ontario Sired)
$62,500 Claimers & up: up to $6,000 ($4,000 if not Ontario Sired)
$40,000 to $50,000 Claimers: up to $4,500 ($3,000 if not Ontario Sired)
$25,000 to $32,000 Claimers: up to $3,300 ($2,200 if not Ont. Sired)
$20,000 Claimers: up to $2,250 ($1,500 if not Ontario Sired)

Unconfirmed rumours. Horses who last ran for $10,000 claiming or lower are getting the boot out of Woodbine and will take up residence at Fort Erie. Lots of these horses will fill races at Woodbine in the near future. Woodbine needs Fort Erie, but treats Fort Erie like crap most of the time.
Also, Stronach apparently has quite a few well bred claimers who will occupy stalls at Fort Erie. Generally, Stronach is a good outfit to claim from. The problem is that Fort Erie writes allowance races, which allows owners like Stronach to protect and steal.
Hopefully Fort Erie will phase out the phony allowance races this year, so they will have more money to distribute to the meat and potatoes claimers. I have often contended that if your horse is worth more than $15,000, run him or her at Woodbine for real purses.

Pull The Pocket reports that "the Ontario Adoption Society whereby 0.15% of purses paid out in the province will be set-aside for retired standardbreds."

HPI has upgraded their website. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz No press. But then again, there is nothing overwhelming there. They do have lots of info for new players. But I doubt they get many new players.

23 March 2008

Ontario Horse Improvement Program Not Very Well Thought Out

The HIP recommendations made by a group of self serving individuals was passed earlier this year without any known changes. Notice the committee members. Recognize any claiming trainers or owners on the list? Me neither.

John Bax Jeff Begg Robert Boyce
Dr. J. Glen Brown Jim Bullock René A. Hunderup
Sue Leslie Krista McLean Hugh Mitchell
Glenn Sikura Ted Smith Noreen Taylor
Jim Whelan David Willmot Dr. Michael R. Wilson

I'll say it again, the best way to enhance the value of Ontario breds is to have Ontario bred claiming races. By making the cheapest Ontario bred worth more money because they can run against equals for higher purses at cheaper claiming levels, makes all Ontario breds worth more money. It also creates incentive to claim or buy these horses. The more horses claimed, the more of a chance that new people will become involved. New potential owners and partnerships don't usually go to sales, they usually buy their first horse in a claiming race or buy a current runner privately.
Increasing the purses for Ontario breds is OK, if you own and Ontario bred who is fast enough to beat American breds, but lets face it, our horses are not as good collectively as the ones down south. There was not even one Canadian bred horse in any of the Breeder's Cup races last year. The committee did not take reality into account.

RECOMMENDATION #TB-2: The Thoroughbred Program for the Horse Improvement
Program should include an Ontario-Bred Bonus Program with the following criteria:
• An Ontario Bred Bonus Program for Thoroughbreds racing in Ontario
that will comprise (when fully implemented) a 20% bonus for all
Registered Ontario Bred horses winning 1st through 5th in Open races in
Ontario (where Open is defined as “not-restricted by residency or
• The 20% Bonus will be paid to the current owner at time of racing. The
Bonus will be funded by the Horse Improvement Program budget.
A Registered Ontario Bred will be eligible for the Ontario Bred Bonus in
any Open race until such time as it has been claimed. Once a horse has
been claimed it is excluded from the Ontario Bred Bonus Program for the
rest of its racing career

The idea of not allowing a claimed Ontario bred horse to earn extra money is absolutely moronic and will prove counterproductive to the breeding industry.

Why was this rule put in place? To save money once a horse is claimed? Less money will be paid out to seasoned Ontario breds as time goes on. OK, that is a good excuse, but again, it will hurt the Ontario breeding industry in the long run.

Does this protect the breeder or the person who buys the Ontario bred horse at a sale?
Absolutely not. Most horses usually run for a price higher than they are worth at Woodbine (or else there would be a lot more claims). So if an owner or breeder runs the horse slightly over their head, they are still not likely to win the purse, and even worse, there is little incentive for anyone to overpay for an Ontario bred anymore. With purses still very high, the incentive to average Ontario claiming owner is to buy American, and even bring in US horses to run here. Worse yet, trainers like Asmussen are going to benefit big time from this new rule.

Isn't it a shame that the slot money that keeps most Woodbine execs from the unemployment line is now going to be benefiting US operations?

Why is this bad for the industry long term?

Less claims. Less claims means less owners usually. It means less partnerships. And less new people getting involved. And again, most owners I know get into buying horses at yearling sales and get into breeding AFTER they actually bought or claimed a current runner. New people don't usually get into racing with a yearling.

Again, attracting new people is definitely not Woodbine's forte (yes, Woodbine was very influential when it came to this new program). Just see above, at those on the advisory committee.

According to the Ontario HBPA website, Fort Erie, if I'm reading right, should also have higher purses for Ontario breds in the majority of races written there. Why hasn't Fort Erie promoted this?

The major change in the thoroughbred HIP program which commences in 2008 is the redistribution of the contribution to the overnight purse supplement. With the specific aim of generally promoting and enhancing the Ontario bred horse, the new HIP program will now reward all registered Ontario bred horses in open races who earn a purse at an Ontario thoroughbred racetrack with a bonus paid through the HIP program. The bonus amount will be a percent of the purse which will be phased in over the next couple of years with the 2008 bonus being 10% and climbing up to 20% during the phase in period. All registered Ontario bred horses are eligible for the bonus as long as the horse has not been claimed. Previously claimed horses (2007 and prior) will be eligible for the bonus.

I still have some unanswered questions. Hopefully, Jen Morrison will come through in the next couple of days, as this topic is quite hot right now on her blog in the comment section.

1) If you buy an Ontario bred privately is that horse still eligible for rewards? I know they are if they are bought in a sale, but the wording only says "claimed" horses will not receive rewards. Also, if an original owner sells a piece of the horse, does that make it not eligible?
I wonder if the committee's brain trust even thought that one through.

2) Are Ontario sired horses that are claimed this year still eligible for Ontario sired races? This would at least create some incentive to claim an Ontario sired horse.

3) Are they going to phase out Ontario sired races and replace them with Ontario bred races?

4) Is the TIP program going to be the same this year as it was last year. Unfortunately, the CTHS website doesn't seem to be on the ball when it comes to updating their website when it comes to pertinent information like this. They have the 2007 TIP pamphlet though. What about 2008?

20 March 2008

Pinnacle Doesn't Want Winners & The Gambling Myths Quiz

A friend of mine recently had a very good month betting horses at Pinnacle (an amount close to what the average person takes home a year in Canada). Pinnacle was giving a 7.5% rebate (which I now believe has been reduced to 5%). But it looks like my friend did too well. It is apparent that Pinnacle only wants to deal with losers (well, they are a business after all). He received this email:

Dear Sir,

This email is to advise that Pinnacle Sports is no longer able to accept your horse wagers. This is a decision made by our Horse Department and if there are changes in the future, we will notify you.

You may, of course, continue to make sports wagers, or visit our Casino.


Customer Service Department
Pinnacle Sports

He told Pinnacle to give him his balance. Pinnacle complied.
This bettor usually only plays Betfair, and like me, he has no use for WEG, and refuses to give them any business. He only likes playing major tracks, and is currently searching for someone to take his bets while giving a rebate to compliment his Betfair action.

Cancer takes Elizabeth Samuel's life

Detroit racetrack looks like a go.

Responsible Gambling Council seem to be doing a tour of the Ontario Racinos trying to dispel the myths many people have when it comes to gambling:

Take the Gambling Myths Quiz
Windsor Star
Published: Friday, March 07, 2008

Take this quiz to see if you can separate gambling fact from gambling fiction.

1. True or False: If a slot machine hasn't had a recent win, it's due for one.

2. True or False: If you're on a losing streak, don't worry - if you play long enough you'll win your money back.

3. Playing two or more slot machines at the same time is a good way to:
a) Exercise those arm muscles
b) Lose money faster
c) Increase your chances of winning a jackpot

4. Choosing the same lottery numbers every week will:
a) Improve your chances of winning
b) Decrease your chances
c) Make no difference

5. True or False: If you buy a lottery ticket every day, you'll likely win the jackpot sometime within the next 40 years.

6. True or False: No matter what game they're playing over time gamblers usually lose more than they win.

7. You can increase your chances of winning at a slot machine by:
a) Putting more money in the machine at one time
b) Pulling the handle instead of hitting the SPIN button
c) Using a slot machine that hasn't paid out recently
d) None of the above

8. True or False: If you flip a coin five times and you get heads each time, you are more likely to get tails on the next flip.

9. If playing roulette where red has come up 14 times in a row, the next best bet is to?
a) Continue to bet on red
b) Bet on black - It must be due
c) None of the above will improve your chances of winning

10. True or False: Gambling is a good way to make some quick, easy money.

Here are the answers:

1. False. Slots operate randomly, no matter how many wins or losses occurred in the past. The last game's result has no bearing on the next one.

2. False. The odds are programmed to favour the gaming operator. The longer you play the more likely you'll lose.

3. B: Lose money faster. By playing more than one machine at the same time, you have increased your cost of play by two times or more.

4. C: Nothing can improve your chances of winning since each number is selected randomly. One set of numbers is as likely - or unlikely - to win as another.

5. False: At a rate of one ticket per day, it could take anywhere from one week to more than 80,000 years to win. On average, it would take around 20,000 years to win. (Source: Random Event Knowledge Test, 2000, Turner, N.).

6. True: The "house edge" ensures that, while it is possible to win in the short term, over time the gaming operator will be the winner.

7. D: There is no action a player can take to increase the chances of winning at a slot machine.

8. False: When the game is random, past results are irrelevant for predicting what will come up next.

9. C: Every spin is an independent event. Previous results have no predictive value on future outcomes.

10. False: Gambling is a good way to lose money. Almost everyone who gambles loses money in the long run.

Apparently 43% of Canadians got at least one question wrong. Those who got the slot specific questions wrong are way out to lunch. But two of their answers are wrong. Question 6 for example. In games when you are up against the public (even if they have a takeout or rake), like poker or horse racing and even sports betting (where point spreads are determined by how the public is predicted to bet), there is still a chance that you can win in the long run. Of course, if you are betting at WEG without a substantial rebate, you have absolutely no chance to win in the long run because of their outrageous track takeout.

Also, question 9 can be debated. I've heard of roulette machines which have enough of a defect which gives certain numbers or even colours an edge. An edge high enough to beat the house advantage. Though this is rare, and probably becoming more and more rare each day thanks to technological advances.

Betting action on Australian race at Betfair prompts investigation. Some say that the ability to bet a horse to lose can create more corruption. However, I am optimistic here. This gives regulators a chance to weed out the corrupt element.
When was the last time Woodbine investigated an abnormally low priced winner? Hidden workouts?

16 March 2008

The History Of Gambling In America

Thanks to Dan G. from the Pace Advantage Forum for finding this 5 part documentary (each part is around 10 minutes). This is full of great info on the history of gambling in the USA. Bottom line is that gambling is as American as apple pie:

Question for my readers. When was parimutuel wagering introduced in Canada? I don't know the answer yet.

14 March 2008

Woodbine Ranks 52nd Out Of 58 When It Comes To Lowest Takeouts

After I posted a track takeout rate chart, one of my readers (MS), put together a chart ranking tracks by lowest takeout average (I'll try to post it here at a later date). The number one bettor friendly track is Keeneland with an average takeout of 18.2%, followed by Churchill Downs with an 18.5% average takeout.
Where does Woodbine rank? Out of 58 popular tracks, Woodbine ranks 52nd with a 23.2% average takeout. Fort Erie ranks 57th with a horrible 25% average (no wonder they don't get people showing up at the track). On the bottom is Assiniboia Downs with a 25.9% average.
What I find intriguing is the fact that many of the tracks with the lowest takeouts do not have slots, while the tracks who gouge the public the most, do have slots.

Dave Perkins says the time is right to legalize sports betting in Ontario.
Good points. Might be good for border towns if tracks like Fort Erie and Windsor put in real sports books. Windsor already has a sports book, but it is a glorified Pro-Line book. You have to pick at least 3 winning games and you end up getting gouged with Pro-Line like takeouts (the house edge).
Who is going to take the risk I wonder? In Fort Erie, I can see many Americans coming across the border to bet on the Bills or Sabres. They will get an extraordinary amount of action on one side. OLG and the racetracks have never been known to take risks. I can see a parimutuel solution for this where the track has no risk (exchange betting like Betfair).
The main thing though is make the odds comparable to what internet players can get online with offshore, or just forget about it.
And if the government wants to get the money that is bet offshore, they government must allow internet betting to be licensed from within Canada, or Ontario at least.
I would like to see companies run it who are at arms length with the government. That is the only way to ensure true competitive odds. If WEG were allowed to run it, they would have to do a total reversal of philosophy because they would have to offer the same odds that can found at Pinnacle and Betfair.

Andrew Beyer is off to Argentina:

Argentine tracks take a cut of about 29 percent from every peso or dollar wagered -- one of the most burdensome rates of any important racing nation. In the United States, where the takeout rate averages 20 percent, the most sophisticated gamblers with the most sophisticated information struggle to eke out a profit of a couple percentage points. How could anyone using the limited data in Argentina overcome a 29 percent takeout?

I asked Tony Bullrich, the top executive at Palermo, if his track had any serious professional gamblers. "There are a couple who think they are," he answered. "But, no, we don't."

Why is Argentine racing so unkind to bettors? Acknowledging that the premise of my question was accurate, Bullrich replied that racing had been in difficult straits since 1988 and had been thrown into utter crisis in 2001. With its survival in jeopardy, the thoroughbred industry had to rescue owners and breeders.

In 2002 the government made this rescue by authorizing Palermo to install slot machines, whose revenue boosted purses enough to make buying racehorses a rational investment. "If you win one 2-year-old maiden race [with a winner's purse of about $11,000], you have covered your training expenses for the year," Bullrich said. "No place in the world has the same equation. Now the owners are coming back. . . . We are coming out of the crisis. Later we can think about gambling and takeout."

WEG has a takeout of 28.3% on triactors and 26.3% on all other exotic bets (not including exactors and doubles). Why are they so unkind to bettors? Arrogance, greed, and mostly stupidity, of course.

EU Investigating United States Internet Laws Pertaining To Gambling Hopefully, this will lead to the States dropping their idiotic law which bans (or attempts to ban) US residents from gambling online with an offshore betting company.
Like I've said before, let the tracks or Vegas take the action. It keeps the potential tax dollars at home.
Looks like Canada is going to do the right thing.

Even with the ban on the internet in the US last year, horse race betting actually dropped. This shows that internet poker and sports betting has little affect on cannibalizing horse racing.

9 March 2008

Track Takeout Chart For Thoroughbred Tracks

UPDATE: Anyone looking for a pretty good takeout chart for North American tracks here is the 2008-2009 HANA chart.

It is very difficult to find track takeout rates for one track, let alone a list of tracks, so hats off to TrackThieves.com for compiling the following list. It may not be 100% accurate, but as far as I know it is the most up to date list on the internet. If anyone knows of a track missing or a mistake, please let me know and I'll pass along the info to TrackThieves so he can make the appropriate correction or addition.

Track WPS DD's P3/4/6Exacta Tris Supers Notes
ALB 0.190 0.220 0.220 0.220 0.250 0.250
AP 0.170 0.205 0.250 0.205 0.250 0.250
AQU 0.150 0.175 0.250* 0.175 0.250 0.250 *P6=15% no c/o
ASD 0.190 0.251 0.271 0.251 0.295 0.295
BEL 0.150 0.175 0.250* 0.175 0.250 0.250 *P6=15% no c/o
BEU 0.180 0.225 0.225 0.225 0.225 0.225
BM 0.154 0.207 0.207 0.207 0.207 0.207
CAFair 0.168 0.215 0.215 0.215 0.215 0.215
CBY 0.170 0.230 0.230 0.230 0.230 0.230
CD 0.160 0.190 0.190 0.190 0.190 0.190
CNL 0.180 0.220 0.220 0.220 0.220 0.220
CRC 0.180 0.210 0.270 0.210 0.270 0.270
CT 0.173 0.190 0.190 0.190 0.250 0.250
DED 0.170 0.205 0.250 0.205 0.250 0.250
DEL 0.170 0.190 0.250 0.190 0.250 0.250
DMR 0.154 0.207 0.207 0.207 0.207 0.207
ELP 0.175 0.220 0.220 0.220 0.220 0.220
EMD 0.161 0.221 0.221 0.221 0.221 0.221
EVD 0.170 0.205 0.250 0.205 0.250 0.250
FEX 0.169 0.262 0.262 0.262 0.282 0.262
FG 0.170 0.205 0.250 0.205 0.250 0.250
FL 0.180 0.200 0.250 0.200 0.250 0.250
FPX 0.154 0.207 0.207 0.207 0.207 0.207
GG 0.154 0.207 0.207 0.207 0.207 0.207
GP 0.150 0.200 0.200 0.200 0.250 0.250
HAW 0.150 0.175 0.230* 0.175 0.230 0.230 *Promo rate P4?
HOL 0.154 0.207 0.207 0.207 0.207 0.207
HOO 0.180 0.215 0.215 0.215 0.215 0.215
HOU 0.180 0.210 0.250* 0.210 0.210 0.250 *P3=12%
HST 0.170 0.238 0.268 0.238 0.268 0.268
IND 0.180 0.215 0.215 0.215 0.215 0.215
KEE 0.160 0.190 0.170 0.190 0.190 0.190
KDX 0.16 0.190 0.190 0.190 0.190 0.190
LA 0.154 0.207 0.207 0.207 0.207 0.207
LAD 0.170 0.205 0.250 0.205 0.250 0.250
LRL 0.180 0.210 0.258* 0.210 0.258 0.258 *Promo rate P4?
LS 0.180 0.210 0.250 0.210 0.250 0.250
MED 0.170 0.190 0.250* 0.190 0.250 0.150 *P4=15%
MTH 0.170 0.190 0.250* 0.190 0.250 0.250 *P4=15%
MNR 0.173 0.190 0.250 0.190 0.250 0.250
OP 0.170 0.210 0.210 0.210 0.210 0.210
PEN 0.170 0.200 0.280 0.220 0.310 0.310
PHA 0.170 0.200 0.260 0.200 0.300 0.300
PID 0.170 0.200 0.260 0.200 0.260 0.290
PIM 0.180 0.210 0.258* 0.210 0.258 0.258 *Promo rate P4?
PRM 0.170 0.200 0.230 0.200 0.230 0.200
RD 0.180 0.220 0.220 0.220 0.220 0.220
RET 0.180 0.120 0.210* 0.210 0.250 0.250 *P3=12%
RPX 0.180 0.200 0.200 0.200 0.200 0.200
RUI 0.168 0.210 0.250 0.210 0.210 0.250
SA 0.154 0.207 0.207 0.207 0.207 0.207
SAR 0.150 0.175 0.250* 0.175 0.250 0.250 *P6=15% no c/o
SUF 0.190 0.260 0.260 0.260 0.260 0.260
SUN 0.190 0.210 0.250 0.210 0.250 0.250
SRP 0.190 0.220 0.220 0.220 0.250 0.250
TAM 0.170 0.200 0.200 0.215 0.215 0.215
TDN 0.180 0.220 0.220 0.220 0.220 0.220
TP 0.175 0.220 0.220 0.220 0.220 0.220
TUP 0.200 0.210 0.250 0.210 0.250 0.250
WO 0.170 0.205 0.263 0.205 0.283 0.263
YAV 0.200 0.210 0.250 0.210 0.250 0.250
AVE. 0.170 0.204 0.231 0.206 0.237 0.238

When one does a Google search for track takeouts, the two top matches have out of date information. Both Horseplayer Magazine and Brisnet are not as up to date as the list by Trackthieves.

Daily Racing Form tries to be as up to date as possible. Probably the second best source for this type of info, though the info can only be found there on a track to track basis. For example here is the Woodbine page.

Again, I'll mention the fact that I searched Woodbine's vast site and could not find one page where track takeout rates were shown. What are they trying to hide?

And as far as Fort Erie having a takeout rate of 26.2% on doubles and triactors: they are not a position to whine about the fact they can't get people to go to the track. This explains a lot.

Yeah, Canada doesn't have a 30% tax withholding, but the tracks make it up by having 20-30% higher takeouts than many US tracks on many of their betting propositions.

I want to make one more valid point. The overwhelming majority of horseplayers are not aware of track takeouts and the implications of lower takeouts, but that doesn't mean it has no affect on these players. High takeouts cause people to go broke faster, and most importantly makes it much more difficult to win for a day and especially a long period of time. When people look at horse racing as just a losing proposition they tend to put the game on their low priority list. They don't bring friends to the track. They don't even brag about a winning day anymore, because they know the chances of repeating the effort is dismal. No buzz from players winning means no new players.

Some games that allow the player to last longer:
Online poker 4-5% rake but very high rebates for quantity players
Blackjack 1.5% house advantage
Slots 10% maximum house advantage in most jurisdictions
Sports Betting 5% bookie vig, approximately.

In horse racing one can now bet 10 or more races an hour. The takeouts should be reduced to 10%, but right now I'll take a 15% maximum to give the track execs some understanding on how to eventually GROW the game for good.

Update: Thanks to Marc for letting me know Meadowlands has a 15% take on Pick 4's and Supers, and Monmouth has a 15% take on Pick 4's.

Update2: I added a few more tracks at the urging of Marv.

8 March 2008

Cangamble Gets Attacked By Anonymous "WEG" Exec?

I left a comment on Jennifer Morrison's blog a few days ago. First I corrected an article which stated that Fort Erie would only have $4 million in purses this year (the real number is $9.1 million, but I guessed it was at least $8 million). I also purposely linked a post of my own to the comment: Magna's Future In Doubt; Stronach Is No Visionary. I admit I was most interested in getting WEG execs lured over to read the post, and I do think it worked;)
I checked for 5 days to see if anyone commented there, and I was just alerted today by someone commenting on my blog (the same person? who commented on Jen's blog) that there was a comment there. So let me rip this probable WEG exec a new one:

Anonymous said...

Love how this wiseguy starts his rant with Stronach's name so you think it's another MEC article, but pulls off the "bait and switch" and suddenly it becomes yet another tired old anti-WEG rant. Yawn...

If telling the truth and making sure the truth gets out makes me a wiseguy, then I'm a wiseguy. By you calling it "another tired old anti-WEG rant" tells me you are either a brain dead customer or a racing exec (as close to being brain dead as possible). WEG deserves as much criticism as they get and then some. They have literally driven good customers away. At a time when everybody can bet, they are struggling keeping up last years numbers. I have a huge list of how WEG violates their customers and potential customers, but I don't have enough time right now to go into them.

But since he likes to shoot off his mouth anonymously it's time someone replies to him. Also anonymously. From someone who does not have any connection with Messrs. Willmot or Stronach.

I doubt you have no connections. There has to be something in it for you. If that is not true, you are in fact brain dead. BTW, feel free to email me. I'm not nearly as anonymous as you.

He starts off claiming that a 15% takeout across the board would be fair, then further down in his blog, suddenly quotes 10% as a fair number. Read on and he starts to brag about all the offshore places he is using. He says that if WEG or MEC switched to such a takeout suddenly he and all his whale friends will start betting through North American pools again.

If WEG dropped their takeout to 15% max (all inclusive), they would most probably get all my business. They would most likely get most of the big bettors I know to bet through them again, at least partially. You see, at 15% everybody will have more churn money, and to win at the races you either need very low takeouts or lots of dummy money in the pools. The racetrack doesn't lose as long as they have a takeout.
I think that 10-12% is the best number for all. It will maximize betting, churning, and yes, profits for the track. By cutting to 15%, I'm hopeful the tracks will see that this is the way to go.
BTW, I didn't say I use all kinds of offshore places, I stated they are available to me. Who says I don't bet through North American pools?

OK, so here's an open question for Mr. Wiseass. Let's say tomorrow Willmot and Stronach announce a 15% takeout across the board. What guarantee do THEY have that you will live up to your end of the deal and actually give them your business? I suspect Mr. Wiseass will be back on his little bloggie saying "15% is too high! I want a 10% takeout or else... " Then if they actually yield to his whiny ass and drop to 10%, then he'll be back with "I can get 5% at Betfair!" or "this illegal place in Curacao will rebate me 5%" so they go to 5%, then he says "I can get 1.5% playing craps".... and so on and so on and so on, it'll never end. That's the problem, Mr. Wiseass and his cronies don't play fair.

Personally, I stay away from bookies. They want you to lose, and make rules in their favour. If I were a win bettor, I'd consider them though. Willmot and Stronach expect their customers to take risks, they should take one themselves and drop the takeouts and see what happens.
No guarantee they will get all my business. In fact, there is no guarantee I will continue betting at all. Though it is highly likely they will get all my business.
I can actually get 3% at Betfair only if I win, but the churning required creates a game similar to blackjack. Since it is only win, sometimes place and show only, it doesn't appeal to me. Every real player knows that it is exotics that make or break you in horse racing.
What is wrong with gamblers having choices anyway? If the racing product is so grand (and I think it is), it will grow.
I'm currently playing against an average takeout of around 15% on exotics, and starting to think I could either win or break even at these levels.
But the idea of dropping rates isn't just to attract the bettors who aren't going through WEG for example. It is to attract new players. New players will only appear through the buzz of other winners. The idea that the game could be beatable. It is NOT beatable when the takeout averages 23%. Not even close.
Drop rates, and it brings in a lot more smart money who also realize that there is new dummy money in the game.

So, to the question... would he agree to the following solution?

1- Reduce the takeout to 12% across the board... BUT
2- Hong Kong's rules are made into law in North America... here is the warning that appears at the bottom of every HKJC webpage: "Don't bet with illegal bookmakers. The maximum penalty for betting with illegal bookmakers is a fine of $30,000 and 9 months imprisonment..."

That would be great. You'd have to define what an illegal bookmaker is though, not to be a wiseguy.

So now everybody is happy. Wiseass (and everybody else) get a reasonable takeout, and WEG can grow its business, but if Wiseass reneges and continues to use Betfair, Curacao, PTC, or online poker (and you know he will!) we toss him in the slammer and fine him $30 G's (and those fines should go directly to Woodbine's purse account). Sounds fair to me.... Then he can go sit in a cell and read that book he keeps threatening to read!!!

Again, you would have to define illegal bookmaker. I mean it. I think Woodbine should set up a betting exchange in Canada exactly the same way that Betfair does (with the same rates). This will not only keep lost revenues here, but it will also potentially take in new international monies. I've never played online poker but know many who do. Either make a Canadian law that makes it illegal, or more preferably put it on the WEG site with some of the profits going to the horsemen.
Am I allowed to buy lottery tickets?
What I do know, is at 12% I'd most likely be pumping minimum $300,000 plus through my WEG account.
12% would also make put offshore bookies out of business. Pinnacle has already cut their rebate because of what happened at IRG. They don't want winners, and they are in a grey area to begin with. I can't see many Canadians playing there if takeouts were reduced in the industry to the 12-15% range.

As an aside, I'd like to add this when it comes to competition. I'd like to know how Woodbine doesn't violate the Competitions Act when they don't allow us to wager on Laurel (when they dropped takeout rates or upped their takes on Ellis Park from 4% to at least 25% last year, and continue to increase their takeout rates on tris at Tampa Bay for example from Tampa's rate of 20.5% to WEGs rate of at least 25%). They have collusive deals with most ADW's in the US, which doesn't allow Canadians to set up accounts with them. Here is the Competition Act:

Competition Act

The Competition Act is Canada’s antitrust legislation. The purpose of this Act is to maintain and encourage fair competition in Canada. It regulates trade and commerce activities and monitors trade practices. For example, mergers and acquisitions that can reduce competition are often subject to review by the Competition Tribunal. The Act may be conveniently divided into three principal areas: criminal offences, civil offences and merger regulation.

The Competition Bureau is responsible for administration and enforcement of the Competition Act. Its role is to promote and maintain fair competition so that Canadians can benefit from lower prices and product choices.

Now I have one question for Anonymous. How does keeping track takeout rates ridiculously high help WEG get and keep clients?

5 March 2008

Ottawa Targets Gaming

I don't usually do this, but today I will take an article and give my opinion paragraph by paragraph.


Native reserve hosts illegal online poker sites

John Ivison, National Post Published: Wednesday, March 05, 2008

OTTAWA - The federal government said yesterday it is considering new measures to stamp out Internet gaming sites based on a native reserve in Quebec, in a move that could spark conflict between Ottawa and Canada's First Nations ahead of a second national "day of action" this summer.
I've never been a fan of Indians getting tax free revenues. If they are in Canada, they should be subject to the same taxes as companies like WEG.

The government deems the 400 or so poker and sports-betting sites operating from the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal to be illegal, but neither federal not provincial governments have attempted to enforce the law. Now Ottawa is reviewing that position.
I'm not sure what is legal and what is illegal when it comes to internet betting. I don't think the government knows either. I'm pretty sure that phone betting and internet betting that WEG utilizes is still in a legal grey area.

"Following recent concerns surrounding Internet gambling in Canada, the Minister of Justice [Rob Nicholson] has asked his officials to examine whether the enforcement of the Criminal Code provisions could be assisted with other measures," said Genevieve Breton, Mr. Nicholson's director of communications.
Either something is legal or it is illegal. End of story. I have my doubts that what the Indians are doing is illegal under the Criminal Code right now.

The "other measures" are understood to be moves to restrict banks and credit card companies from conducting financial transactions with illegal Internet operators. Similar legislation was enacted in the United States two years ago.
That law was a disgrace to America, a push by the Christian Right, a slap in the face to capitalism. Again, what is an illegal internet operator when it comes to Canada's law?

The Mohawks of Kahnawake say these laws do not apply to them since they are a sovereign nation. They also cite section 35 of the Constitution, which was inserted to protect native culture. The Mohawks say that gaming has been central to their culture as a means of settling disputes through competition, not violence. Other native groups, such as the Alexander First Nation in Alberta, have said they plan to emulate Kahnawake.
Sounds like the Indians have an airtight case to me.

Owners of horse-racing tracks, such as Great Canadian Gaming Corp., say they pay $1-billion in tax receipts every year to various levels of governments and incur huge expenses putting on the races. "These offshore operations just poach horse-racing and no one can do anything about it. They're parasites on the butt of Canada," said Ross McLeod, chief executive of Great Canadian Gaming, which owns four tracks in Canada.
Actually, the betting public pays Great Canadian Gaming who pays the government. If Great Canadian Gaming wants to stop the "parasites," they should compete with them, not whine about them. McLeod doesn't mind stealing from the race fans by having grotesque track takeouts that make it impossible for a patron, no matter how good a handicapper he or she is to beat the game. Yet he is crying about others stealing from him.

The track owners have also suggested that governments force Internet service providers to block the sites from Canadian bandwidth. "I expect the government to do the right thing and protect our country's interests," Mr. McLeod said.
How about protecting the PUBLIC INTEREST? Doesn't the public count more than a corporation? The government should do the right thing by forcing Great Canadian Gaming and WEG to compete with offshore betting shops. The Competitions Bureau should investigate and penalize WEG for collusive practices that play against the consumer's interest.

Chuck Barnett, who is a member of the board of supervisors for Mohawk Internet Technologies, a utility company that provides connectivity services for the site owners at Kahnawake, sees Ottawa as a foreign government that has no business regulating activity on Mohawk territory. "However, if I were a Canadian, I might instead be more interested in how explicit legislation could serve as the catalyst for a potential source of economic development, employment and revenue through taxation," he said.
Yes! The government should allow Canadian corporations to book sports action and to set up betting exchanges. They should get the tax money that gambling companies outside Canada are avoiding by competing with them. Most gamblers I know would rather bet with a Canadian company than say Betfair, Pinnacle, etc.

This view was echoed by Michael Lipton, a Toronto lawyer who specializes in gaming law. He said the horse-racing industry has had a monopoly on gambling in Canada for years, with Woodbine Entertainment currently holding a lock on government-sanctioned online horse betting.
Woodbine ABUSES the privilege of being Canada's number one gambling portal by acting like a spoiled baby, illegal collusion, and complete lack of regard of their suckers/patrons.

"I guess if I had a monopoly, I wouldn't want anyone to compete against me either," Mr. Lipton said.
You got that right Mr. Lipton. Unfortunately, the government is either being paid off by Woodbine, or unaware of Woodbine's practices.

He said the United States has faced serious technical difficulties implementing restrictions on the payment system. "They are completely bogged down on how to block this system."
And I hope it gets worse. The US is nuts for implementing the anti-capitalist laws. All they have to do is hub all gambling from Vegas, and rake in the tax dough from the Vegas companies. The public only has so much money to lose on gambling, the idea is to keep all the money within the domestic country, but the only way that will happen is by competing fairly. The largest bettors will do their darnedest to get the best deal for themselves.

He acknowledged the Mohawks have had some problems with fraud. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which regulates Web sites operating from the reserve, fined one popular Web site -- Absolute Poker --$500,000 after players complained of irregular betting that was traced back to someone associated with the site. But he said most operations are transparent and credible.
Someone just got nailed for fraud at Turfway Park. Big deal. The government should just step in and regulate sites devoted to internet poker, etc.

Rather than attempting prohibition, Mr. Lipton said the government should bring the Kahnawake sites into the system and regulate them. He said this would protect the vulnerable, guard against money laundering, bring in tax revenue and provide a competitive edge in the gaming software market in terms of international trade.
Preaching to the choir Mr. Lipton.

"I think [Ottawa] should embrace this and recognize that people don't want to be in a position where the government tells them what they can or can't do in the peace of their own home," he said.
You left off choice when it comes to getting the best deal for the consumer. The government has no business telling me if I want to bet on horses, I have to bet into a ridiculously high track takeout. All this will do is get people to try to beat the system offshore, or quit altogether. In the US betting numbers on horse racing dropped last year despite the government's attempt to make offshore internet betting illegal.

For more background read Proposed Amendments to the Criminal Code to Expand Sports Betting Options Lipton correctly points out that the government has historically taken advantage of the gambler whenever given the opportunity.

According to the following it is legal for a non Canadian online gambling company to accept bets from Canadians:

While there have been few significant developments in Canada’s conventional gaming
sector in recent years, the Canadian gaming industry has witnessed the emergence, and
rapid rise, of the E-gaming sector. As with conventional gaming, Canadian case-law has held that all internet related gaming activity falls under the exclusive domain of the Provinces and cannot be undertaken by private parties. This was the holding in Reference Re: Earth Future Lottery4, where the court ruled that, by virtue of section 207 (4) (c) of the Criminal Code of Canada, the Provinces have the exclusive right to carry out gaming activity through a computer. As a result, all computer related gaming activity, especially internet gaming, remains the exclusive domain of the Provincial governments and private enterprises are excluded from taking part in this type of activity. Despite the official exclusion of the private sector from E-gaming activity, online gaming companies are able to offer their services to the Canadian public by strictly complying with the principles set forth in the Earth Lottery case. The first step in understanding this is the principle that for an activity which is illegal under the Criminal Code to be subject to prosecution in Canada, a certain degree of connectivity with Canada must be in evidence. The Supreme Court of Canada addressed this important issue in R. v. Libman (1985)5, where it held that an offence is subject to criminal prosecution in Canada if “a significant portion of the activities constituting the offence” took place in Canada, thereby establishing a “real and substantive” link between the offence and Canada. This ruling represents the principle that, if it operated in some substantive manner from Canadian territory, such as money changing hands in Canada, or direct contact with an online internet gaming client, a company would be vulnerable to being prosecuted under Canadian criminal law. Accordingly, E-gaming companies offering their services to Canadians are able to do so because they structure their operations in such a way as to avoid connections to Canada which would render their activity subject to Canadian gaming prohibitions.

Toronto Star article on the issue
Current laws prohibit all forms of Internet gambling in Canada, with three exceptions: lotteries in provinces that allow online ticket sales; bettors who have telephone accounts at horse-racing tracks; and private bets between individuals.

Gamblers that have telephone accounts are allowed to gamble on the internet? I don't think that is how the law works. I don't think internet gambling has been dealt with properly in Canada law.

"They take a lower commission on the bet because they don't have infrastructure costs and pay purses. How many jobs are they creating here? None," Jane Holmes, vice-president of corporate affairs for Woodbine Entertainment Group said. "If we tried to do what they're doing, we would lose our licences. It provides them with an unfair competitive advantage."

This is nonsense. Anyone who knows how offshore houses work, knows Ms. Holmes is not telling the whole story, not even close.
First off, Woodbine didn't lose their licence when they dropped takeout on Win 4's a few years back. Secondly, Woodbine sells their signal for 4 or 5% to other hubs across America. In other words, they take 5% of each bet on their tracks by non HPI customers, but they take an average of over 23% commission from their own customers.
Rebate shops simply give back part of the difference between the 5% and 23% to their clientele in order to entice them to bet with them. This is what capitalism is all about. The fact that Woodbine can charge 28.2% on triactors is unfair to the customers as people in Canada are painted in a corner because WEG is a semi-monopoly.
Customers in Canada have a choice, bet through WEG and HPI or take their business offshore in order to get a fair bang for their buck. People are hesitant to begin with when it comes to betting offshore, but WEG has driven them away.
Woodbine would lose their licence if they tried to compete...NOW THAT IS FUNNY

2 March 2008

Stronach Is No Visionary: Magna's Future In Doubt

Magna Entertainment has announced that there "ability to continue as a going concern is in substantial doubt," when reporting their 4th quarter losses of $43 million.
I don't mean to pick on Frank Stronach. His heart was in the right place when he started Magna Entertainment. He had visions of stands of wall to wall horseplayers in the tracks his company owned. He realizes how great a game horse racing is and he wanted more people to realize it too.
Problem is that he didn't realize what gets people into the stands. He invested millions into beautifying his race tracks. Sure, a race track with a nice landscape is cool to look at, but people come back because they think they have a reasonable chance to win. That is the bottom line, and this fact is missed by Stronach just as it is missed by David Willmot, the Grand Poobah at Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG).

Stronach had a huge opportunity to become the saviour of horse racing. He had the infrastructure in which to do it: a betting network coupled with a bunch of tracks which his company owned. He just doesn't get the horseplayer or potential horseplayer, and now with his age getting up there, it is probably too late for him to do the right thing.

Horseplayers Rarely Complain About Track Takeouts

I'm wondering if this is why racing execs don't get it. Horseplayers who are really cognizant of takeouts and the affect on bankrolls and longevity sometimes complain, but mostly they find other avenues to bet (rebate shops or Betfair), or find other things to bet on to get more bang for the buck (blackjack, NFL, online poker, etc.)
The gamblers who aren't hip when it comes to track takeout don't complain of course, they just go broke faster, they don't bring friends to the track, in fact they hide their betting from everyone, and they get disillusioned enough so that they are less likely to put new money into their accounts or go to the tracks altogether.

The Game Has Changed Tremendously In The Past 20 Years

I've mentioned this before many times before. 20 plus years ago when there was no simulcasting going on, horse racing was the only game in town, and for the most part, you had to be live at the track to make a bet. There was only 9 races to bet on, there wasn't a triactor every race, there were no slots (lots of sucker money was still available for a savvy bettor to take advantage of as there was very little competition at all: no internet poker for example), and takeouts were lower than today (slightly).
Now you have less suckers, and you can bet 60 races a day if you have the bankroll to do so. It is more similar to slots (9% average takeout) and even blackjack (with their 1.5% house advantage). Try raising takeout of slots or blackjack (making a tie go to the house), and you'll see nothing but empty chairs. This isn't brain surgery, but the "rocket scientists" at Magna and WEG fail to realize it.

What Stronach Should Have Done

Stronach should have dropped track takeouts at all his tracks to a maximum of 15% for every type of bet. Immediately he would have seen handle on his package of tracks go up, and it would only get better as time went by as word of mouth turned some moderate losers into winners. Other tracks would eventually be forced to cut their takes to compete. While this was happening, more and more people would become attracted to the game of horse racing. Regular players would start bringing friends to the track, and churning of accounts would be up dramatically.

Stronach should have taken Canadians as clients. I'm not trying to be self serving here. OK just a little, but WEG is a huge organization who thinks or at least wants it's patrons to think that they are a monopoly.
WEG would try their illegal collusive tactics to begin with, but Frank could have said "go fly a kite, I don't need to put Woodbine on my available tracks to bet, and I don't care if you carry my tracks either." In fact, Stronach could afford to say no all other content. Bettors would be lined up to set up accounts with Magna's Xpress Bet.
WEG would be forced to drop their takeouts. In the end, the racing industry would prosper immensely.

Personally, I'd be happy to give WEG all my action if they dropped their takeout to 15% maximum on everything or gave me an 8% rebate on exotics, a 5% rebate on win and place (I never bet show), and paid out exactly what the foreign race track pays to its on-track customers. For example, Tampa Bay has a takeout of around 20% on triactors right now, but if you bet through WEG, WEG marks up the the takeout to their MINIMUM of 25%. The horseplayer gets shafted (less money than they deserve for being keen enough to bet on the right ticket).

The Power of Rebates

To date this year, I've bet 8 times more than I would have had I received no rebate. No kidding. It all has to do with rebates. Nothing less, nothing more.
I haven't put a dime through WEG's HPI this year, but I do appreciate their free replay service. LOL
Maybe I'll put in a couple of hundred bucks into my account there to play 20 cent supers and Win 4's for action when Woodbine comes back. Maybe I won't. I know one thing, I'm doing track variants for different tracks right now. Tracks where I have a chance to win thanks to rebates.


I was trying to see if Woodbine had any info about their ridiculously high track takeout on their website. Couldn't find a thing. But I did find their explanation of Common Pool Wagering in for of commonly asked Q's and A's. Check this one out:

Why might payoffs on some pools differ from that of the host?
Since some U.S. tracks have extraordinarily low takeout rates on some pools (e.g. Triactors, Superfectas) that do not accommodate the high mandatory deductions in Canada, WEG will use a minimum of 25% for the total takeout on these pools. This is a very common rate that is used by other U.S. tracks.

So they call any track that doesn't rip their customers off (all tracks rip them off, some not as bad as others) by charging a ludicrous 25%, has EXTRAORDINARILY LOW takeouts. HAHAHAHAHAHA Too funny. How stupid does WEG think horseplayers are?

Lets look at their takeouts and examine their "high mandatory deductions:"

Woodbine Takeout Percentages (including mandatory deductions):

Win/Place/Show - 16.95%
Exactor & Daily Double - 20.5%
Triactor - 28.30%
Win 4 - 25%
All others - 26.3%

Mandatory Deductions:

Horsepeople receive a further 2% on all wagers except 4% on triactor wagering.

The Ontario Provincial Government retains 0.5% on all bets placed in Ontario.

The Canadian Government (through a revolving fund cost recovery basis) retains 0.8%
On all wagers placed in Canada for provision of drug control, photo-finish, video patrol
And audit services.

The only difference between flat bets and exactors, and triactors as far as mandatory deductions go is the extra 2% horse people receive, yet their win takeout is around 17% while exactors have a 20% takeout. So what is the justification for having to raise Tampa Bay's takeout to 25% again? Other than to take more money from their beloved client base (and therefore give the player less money to bet back) so as to discourage the bettors even more?


Harnesslink.com has started a brand new blog devoted to harness racing articles from all over. Check out Harness Racing Blog.

Pull The Pocket links a must read article about the testimony of NTRA's Alexander Waldrop's lacking testimony at the recent "Drugs in Sports: Compromising the Health of Athletes and Undermining the Integrity of Competition" hearing in Washington DC on February 27th. Pull The Pocket of course adds his usual two cents. Well worth reading.