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Monday, 13 May 2013

Ontario Racing Needs Handle: Ideas For Growth

Horse racing in Ontario has made it through the first quarter of 2013, and we're now at a point where we are getting no slots money. We're in what a time that silly people who have forgotten that bettors exist think is the apocalypse. Don't listen to those people. This is a challenging time for racing in Ontario, but with proper steps towards creating great wagering products at all of our tracks we can return to our prior glory. Here are 3 of my ideas for creating handle in Ontario.

  • Western Fair has recently added a Super High 5 wager in the last race of the day. To make the Super High 5 a better wager, they've added a 2nd horse to the trailing tier on the gate, giving the race a 9 horse field. Now, why don't they do a 9 horse field in every race? Bigger fields mean more handle, and with less tracks racing at the same time there should be no shortage of horses. This doesn't just apply to the Western Fair. Georgian Downs for example could run 10 horse fields with a horse coming from the trailing tier. This only makes sense to me.
  • Here's something I've said quite a few times: lower the takeout. Lower the god damn takeout. Some tracks have done this and seen some success. Western Fair has 15% takeout Pick 4 & Super High 5, and they've both proven to be successful wagers for the track. Woodbine has lowered Win takeout for Thoroughbred racing to 14.95%, the lowest in North America. Low takeout is something that should be embraced with arms wide open. Look at Hastings, the Meadowlands & Sam Houston. All have lowered takeout rates and seen success. In Kentucky, the highest takeout rate for any wager is 19%. Why can't we do this here?
  • Race where there's less competition. Ajax Downs is doing this. Last year Ajax raced on Sunday & Tuesday. Ajax never got big handles, but their Tuesday handles were significantly higher than Sundays. This year, Ajax is running on Tuesdays and Holiday Mondays. This will be great for handle. Fort Erie is moving their signature race, the Prince of Wales, to a Tuesday this year as opposed to the traditional Sunday. I'd be willing to take short odds on 2013 Prince of Wales Day handle being higher than 2012. Racing when there is less competition is an important part of growing handle. You need to make yourself more apparent to the players. 
These are 3 simple ideas. Very simple. Hopefully racetracks in Ontario take action and get our industry into a state of stability.

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