Wednesday, 8 April 2015

A Lesson for Horse Racing: Sometimes Less is More

If there is one thing people in the horse racing industry want, it's more. More what? More money, more race dates, more integrity, more fans, more promotion. More is good.

    Unfortunately, the racing industry doesn't seem to understand the idea that sometimes, less is more.

    The racing industry is looking for ways to grow wagering and increase revenue, as they should be. Horseplayers have been demanding lower takeout wagers, and there have been quite a few tracks who have responded. However, the response always seems to be adding a new wager with a lower takeout rate.

     Don't get me wrong, I support any track that wants to offer lower takeout wagers, but I think racing needs to step back and reconsider the approach. Instead of adding a new wager to the menu, I think it would be smarter to work on growing the existing wagers.

     By adding a new wager to the menu, you are taking money out of other pools, especially in the case of overlapping multi-race wagers. You shouldn't be trying to create growth at the expense of another one of your wagers.

    Of course, racing still needs to understand the idea that lower takeout will lead to more revenue. We should be working to get down to 12-15%, not 20-25%. There are some tracks who have started moving themselves in that direction (we love you, Kentucky Downs.)

    I'm also a believer that we have too many vertical wagers in races with shorter fields, which hinders long term growth. It's rarely worth betting a triactor in a field of six, so what does the industry do? Offers $.10 superfectas. In my opinion, triactors should be offered in seven horse fields, minimum, and superfectas should be offered in eight horse fields, minimum. If we want to grow the game, we can't soak horseplayers with terrible wagers.

    If horse racing wants to become a better gamble, more wagers aren't the key. Better wagers are.

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