Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cost of Entry too High?

A beginning horseplayer made the following observations on the horse racing message board that we thought worth featuring here at HANA. The industry has been slowly increasing the availability of the things he's talking about, but they need to do a better job of making these things more easily accessible, and more widespread.

As I'm sure is obvious, I'm new to horse racing. I live about two hours from the nearest harness track - and even farther from a thoroughbred track. Needless to say, it only makes sense for me to use ADW.

The biggest problem I've noticed with horse racing is the cost of entry. The industry is really shooting itself in the foot when it comes to enticing new players.

Nobody wants to start big. With an online poker site, you can play for free or for extremely low stakes. Other than your gambling capital, it costs nothing to start playing. If you don't want to learn by playing low stakes games, you can learn by observing other players. There is no fee for this.

Now let's look at horse racing...

No beginner should be betting every race at a track. But the programs... they're going to cost you. If I want to bet $5 for a horse to win in just one or two races, is it really worth $2-$4 for a program. Nope. I suppose I could get an unlimited subscription, but I'd have to make several hundred dollars worth of bets each month for that to make financial sense.

I want to learn. I want to see how my picks worked out. I want to see the race, rather than just infer from a chart. Live video? It's spotty at best, and if you're a low level bettor, it's going to cost you. Hello subscription fees!

Do you want past performance charts? Pay up!

I have no problem with companies making money. The DRF deserves to turn a profit. However, there should be some sort service given to people who are just starting out. EVERY track should offer free video. EVERY track should offer free programs - maybe not with as much content as a full program, but at least enough content to make a somewhat informed bet.

As it stands now, if you want the tools you need, you have to go in full bore. This discourages a lot of casual players that would someday become something more than casual.

The tracks are using a 1970s business model in an internet world.

Compare that to internet poker/casino sites, and you can see why the tracks are struggling.

Of related interest on this topic is an interesting Wired article cited in the discussion following his comments, Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Entry Costs:
I don't know whether the writer is US based or Canadian.
Harness tracks in Canada offer free programs and also live streaming of the races. In Harness racing, Woodbine, Mohawk, Georgian Downs and Windsor Raceway supply these freebies. To place wagers, a ADW is required - which is WEG.

For low cost info, TSN offers an unlimited supply of Past Performances, a Pace Software program and Insider Picks and Power Plays for $59.95 US per month. All North American TB tracks.

It does seem a shame that the least visible item on most horse racing websites is the horse. Go figure.

Alex Sidor