In his Troy Record column, "Feel the Love,” Nick Kling examines several groups claiming to represent racing fans.
“At periodic intervals over the last decade, various members of the racing media have tried to poll Thoroughbred racing fans. The subject was whether there was interest in an organized group to represent the betting public. My own experience was that what appeared to be a positive initial response evaporated when it came time to move forward. The bottom line was this. Racing fans like to complain, but few want to surrender any of their autonomy to join a coordinated effort. That may be changing. Several groups purporting to represent fans, or calling them to join an organization, have sprouted like mushrooms.”
Mr. Kling described what he perceives to differentiate the various groups that we at HANA hope will not prove mutually exclusive. Of HANA he writes:
“A handicapping forum called 'pace advantage' appears to have generated some people who began the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA). Like the Self Appointed group, this one charges no membership fee. This group may be the most hardcore, in that the writings on its site are focused on betting and improving the return to the horseplayer”.
“The formation of grass roots fan groups like HANA, and possibly ThoroFan, reveal the difference in focus. HANA's primary goals are lowered takeout and the resulting higher return to bettors, as well as changes in the unfair tax laws which plague horseplayers. The people to whom policies like that are addressed don't stand in line for T-shirts, nor care if they can buy a sweatshirt for 10 percent off.”
He concludes with the caveat
“Time will reveal which of these groups: 1) has a positive impact on fans, and, 2) will remain in operation. For right now, isn't it nice to know someone cares about you? Do you feel the love?”
We at HANA thank Mr. Kling for joining other journalists in bringing HANA before the public’s eye. We would, however, like to adjust (as opposed to correct) his perceptions of us.
First, while HANA includes serious as well as casual players, I don't believe the term “hard-core” is an accurate description of all those whose support we seek. I myself am a weekend/holiday player whose handle couldn’t currently qualify for cash rewards even if I were to bet every racing day.
Second, although one of our stated goals is indeed IRS withholding reform, our main focus is on two issues 1) Lowering takeout -- either directly or else indirectly via rebates -- for all, and 2) Enabling every in-home or on-line bettor using any ADW he chooses to be able to bet any scheduled race in North America, and to be able to watch it live.
A minority of the founders of HANA may fairly be called medium-core activists, but all of us would prefer to cooperatively work together with OISH (Other Industry StakeHolders) to create a bettor-friendly environment that addresses everyone’s concerns and satisfies the needs of all involved.
We are definitely NOT happy with the special treatment given to a small subset of players known as “whales” who receive rebates on their bets based on their extremely high volume of dollars wagered. In our efforts to “level the playing field” for all bettors, we also expect to effect improvements in the areas of customer convenience, service, and treatment.
Will we be around for any length of time? Only if people continue to support us with legitimate sign-ups that will enable us to accurately measure our collective influence. In the meantime we hope to make all players aware of how the industry currently operates and what positions we believe will benefit players collectively in order to grow the game, and secure the enjoyment of racing for future generations of horseplayers.
This opinion was submitted by a California member of HANA.