Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Polite Response to Mr. Andrew Beyer

Hello Faithful Few, this post is in response to an article I read today in the Daily Racing Form by way of the Washington Post entitled "Andrew Beyer: Racing industry keeps horseplayers off balance" about how confusing race conditions are hurting the racing industries access to new players.

Mr. Andrew Beyer,
(You by the way are one of my personal heroes and the person responsible for getting me into Horse racing in the first place, so thank you.)

I agree with your article that this is a confusing part of the game, but this is really only a concern for the advanced player as a new bettor is far too overwhelmed to even worry about conditions or types of races, and it is a much broader problem that we face. The sport is dying, literally as the average age of a serious horseplayer is somewhere around 65, (I am usually the youngest person at the OTB and I am by no means young...) Without attracting new players either casual or serious the sport will all but disappear in a few short years, or be merely a sideline to the slot machines and other games of chance and non-skill.

The game becomes more and more clouded and shady every race and the final results increasingly baffling and unbelievable, couple that with larger and larger take outs, and it is making the game all but un-winnable, save for large syndicates with ocean deep pockets. The serious Handicapper who does somehow manage to win, is seeing his winnings, (and R.O.I ) get smaller and smaller and then there are the you are literally shrinking your pool of players by reducing their piece of the pie every single day.

In my humble opinion, what we need to save the sport is threefold:

  1. Standards, Regulations and Uniformity in the the Sport:
    Testing, testing, testing, permissible drug use, race conditions, take-out, Stewardship, EVERYTHING, the same at every track, every state, everywhere. If the new bettor knows what to expect and that it is a level playing field state to state or track to track, Every Bet, Every Track, Every Time, it will instill confidence in the sport and encourage new dollars to the game.

  2. Reduce Take Out across the Sport and Set Uniform Standards and Maximums:
    I know what your thinking;” The tracks aren’t making any money so they need bigger and bigger take outs to survive.” I'm sorry but it is exactly the opposite. If the race track gets15%-36% out of every dollar wagered off the top, and the average bettor isn't winning, he has less and less to wager every race and then eventually is left with nothing and no urge to return or frequent his local race track. If the take out was lowered and standardized you would return more of the bettors dollars to them every bet, giving them more dollars to put into circulation, and more money left for food, drink etc. By lessening the bite on the bettor, they would have more dollars to play longer, and more impetus to return again, and again. Would you as the track rather get 36% one time or 10% many, many times, (it should be an easy answer?)

    2b} Standardized Take Out means Standardized Take Out:
    Why does the track take more of a bite out of the Exotic Wager and less out of straight W/P/S wagers when it is infinitely more difficult to hit exotics and the bulk of the betting done by causal bettors are straight W/P/S wagers? The take out should be the same, Every Bet, Every Track, Every Time. I suggest a more than fair flat 10% take out structure for every wager. If you lower the vig on all types of wagers, especially exotics you are are going to increase the likelihood of the inexperienced bettor making these types of wagers thus increasing dollars in the pools, thereby creating a cascade effect by the serious handicapper spending more on these bets trying to scoop up all that “uneducated money” and then increasing the over all handle, not once- but continuously. Why does one bet cost more than another anyway?

  3. Redesigned Approach to Marketing:
    I was lucky enough to cross of an item from my Bucket List a few years ago and went to the Breeders Cup, 95% of the people I told I was going did not know what it was, or had never even heard of it, and that is a MAJOR problem and roadblock to market when the general public doesn't even know about their sports biggest event after 31 years of running it.
    The industry has done a good job of starting to use Social Media and the like to reach out to the younger audience they crave and need to survive, but the came late to the party and they need to step it up if they want to be here 10 years from now. They need to make a concentrated effort to market to younger potential players by changing their entire strategy from an insider to an outsiders perspective. Assume who you are marketing to knows nothing, not one single thing about Horse Racing and then go from there. They need to focus the ads somewhere where young people are, and not where the Horseplayers already are; spots during The Voice, or Big Bang Theory, or during the W.S.O.P on ESPN for gods sake! Reach out to Fraternities and Fantasy Leagues, and any other group with a high propensity for competition, not necessarily gambling and then the dollars will cross over. Have beginners clinics at Every Track, Every Time and partner with younger, hipper sponsors to cross market, offset cost and establish a brand, you know 101 marketing stuff, cmon! If the average Joe (or Jill) doesn't even know about Horse racing how are you going to get them to go to the track, little alone spend their hard earned dollars on wagers they don't understand, just to have the track take a massive chunk right off the top, and then maybe not get paid when they win(...Rainbow-6 anyone?)

The industry needs to branch out, think outside the oval, and get standardized if they want to survive, it is that simple. The general public, average bettor, heck even the serious bettor feels the sport is almost un-winnable and the overwhelming perception is that it is fixed, and what type of a race or the convoluted conditions surrounding it are a far more advanced problem then the larger one facing our beloved sport. Every other major sport has the same rules and regulations no matter where their games are held, why not Horse racing?

Every Bet, Every Track, Every Time, or else.

Mr. Beyer thank you for your continued contribution to the sport of Horse racing, you are and will always be THE MAN.

That's All I Got,


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