By Andy Asaro
If Organizations like the NTRA, the Jockey Club, Americas Best Racing, and the Breeders' Cup believe that California racing is vital to the industry, they can help promote California racing as a "Test Jurisdiction" for selling horse racing as a Gambling Game of Skill.
What does that support look like? It looks like social media promotion along with weekly monitoring of handle/revenue under the new changes.
As most of you know the new changes are meant to grow the game by promoting high churn lower takeout wagers like WPS and two horse exotics. We believe that WPS breakage should pay to the penny, and as a trade-off to the industry the minimum payoff on Show wagers should be reduced to $2.05 to help with minus pools. Takeout on exacta wagers should be reduced to 16%.
As part of the promotion the alphabet organizations, TVG, and other racing media outlets would help by constantly telling people who are new to the game or who only bet a few times a year that the best way to learn the game and the best chance of winning is to concentrate on high churn wagers. A $1 three horse exacta box and $2 WPS on the longest shot of your selections is an example of a high-churn strategy and to get the new Customers coming back. As people bet and cash they will learn to adjust these wagers for a more optimal outcome, and just as important they will learn to read the PP's and learn to recheck their wins and losses, just as we all did at one time.
California Racing is in trouble. Field size will likely drop in 2017, and handle has trended downwards. The drop in field size makes it all the more important to pay to the penny on WPS breakage and lower exacta takeout to 16%. People will bet on shorter fields at the right price.
Here's the deal. Prominent Individuals and organizations like the CHRB, CTT, TOC, and the CTBA need to come together and ask the industry for their help to promote horse racing as a Gambling Game of skill AND use California Racing (Del Mar, Santa Anita) as a test jurisdiction. It would be much easier for California racing to succeed with the backing of the industry.
The only motive I/we have is to see the game grow by making pragmatic decisions with long term growth of handle/revenue in mind. We know individuals who actually earn a living playing on the Tournament circuit who would be more than willing to lend their names to the "Gambling Game of Skill" promotion but only if the changes listed above are implemented. Think about it. For the first time the Industry would have individuals who were winning 100K to 500K or more per year telling real life stories about their profession. If that isn't powerful I don't know what is.
California racing should also reinstate the parlays in this manner. You don't need to print parlay cards; all you need is to put a parlay and a "round robin" parlay button on the self-serve machines and on ADW's. With penny breakage on WPS we should see an increased interest in parlays, especially show parlays which are high churn. Having the option to make or not make parlays should be up to the Customer and the most important point is that California racing would be projecting itself as an industry leader once again by offering options that other jurisdictions do not offer.
One of the ways we can give back to the Industry is to have an option on self-serve machines and ADW's to donate either to a backstretch workers fund, an Aftercare fund, and a permanently disabled Jockeys fund. As I've said before I believe that quite a few people would give anywhere from the odd 60 cents all the way up to hundreds of dollars after a big score. I believe giving back is an essential part of growing the game.