Sunday, November 9, 2008

Press Release: Executives Hear Horseplayer Concern from HANA



(Charlottesville, Virginia. November 9, 2008): The Horseplayers Association of North America, through its President Jeff Platt, called for an immediate end to the Advance Deposit Wagering dispute between tracks, horsemen and ADW companies. In addition, HANA has been in direct contact with the parties to ensure that the horseplayer’s concerns are heard.

In speaking with Ryan Conley of the Bloodhorse, Jeff stated "They [horseplayers] are very frustrated, and discouraged; some are outraged, that the signals aren’t going out. The level of frustration is an eye-opener to us. And a lot of players are telling me they are going to play something else."

"You don’t walk into a casino and have someone tell you the craps tables are closed, or the blackjack dealers are on strike," Platt said. "Racing is making it difficult on its players. Players are leaving the game. They are spending their money elsewhere. And many of them are not coming back."

In a previous open letter to the Industry, HANA stated the following:

"Racing is at a crossroads. Thoroughbred handle is down nearly everywhere. That in itself should be your wake up call. Track management, horsemen's groups, and ADWs - ALL of you should be working together - doing everything within your power to grow handle by bringing new fans to the game.

Instead you have done just the opposite.

This is exactly the kind of mess the industry doesn't need at a time when the last thing the industry needs is any kind of mess at all.

I implore you to put aside your differences. End this now - before you do the game more damage than you already have."

Platt has been working the phones on behalf of horseplayers, the ones who have been lost in this stalemate. "It's been a busy week. I've burned a ton of cell phone minutes talking to all sides involved in the signal wars - track executives, horsemen, ADW operators, and yes - customers."

Jeff was impressed with Chairman Jack Liebau: "Here is a track executive that really does understand the short-sightedness of the signal wars and how it impacts the customer. He understands that players not only have the option to spend their money elsewhere but are actively doing so."

Jeff is hopeful that a deal can be struck soon. "From my conversations I pressed the issue and received good feedback. It seems everyone realizes this fight does no one any good. Although horseplayers fund the sport, they are rarely represented in these issues. We are determined to give players a seat at the table and be heard.”

HANA will keep members and the media updated when further information becomes available.

For complete text of the Bloodhorse article, the url is here:

For a complete text of the Open Letter, the url is here:

For a web copy of this release, the url is here:

Please visit us at for further information.

The Horseplayers Association of North America is a grassroots group of horseplayers, not affiliated with any organization, who are not pleased with the direction the game has taken. HANA believes that both tracks and horseman groups have become bogged down with industry infighting and have completely forgotten something: The importance of the customer. HANA hopes, through proactive change on several key issues (including but not limited to), open signal access, lower effective takeouts, affordable data and customer appreciation, the industry’s handle losses can be reversed. HANA is currently made up of close to 300 horseplayers (both harness and thoroughbred) from almost all states and Canadian provinces. It currently represents over twenty million dollars of yearly racing handle.

Members of the HANA advisory board include Cary Fotias and Dr. William Ziemba.

Our web address is and interested horseplayers can sign up there for free. We are horseplayers, just like you and we are trying to make a difference. We need and appreciate your support.


Note: We need your help! Please sign up here if you wish to be a part of HANA. It's free, we don't spam, and your information is held in confidence. We need horseplayers to force change and build a better sport. We're horseplayers, just like you.


Anonymous said...

Fair Play! Keep up the good work, Jeff.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your hard work. This madness has to stop!

We need better prices through honest rebates and better access for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Keep it going!!!

Anonymous said...

Your press release said --

Jeff was impressed with Chairman Jack Liebau: "Here is a track executive that really does understand the short-sightedness of the signal wars and how it impacts the customer. He understands that players not only have the option to spend their money elsewhere but are actively doing so."

Would you please tell us what it is about Mr. Liebau that makes him so perceptive in your opinion. This isn't to disagree with you, but you offer no supporting evidence, just your opinion.

Thank you.

HANA said...

Hi A,

Jeff had one or more long conversations and came away impressed with his knowledge of what needs to be done. There is only so much we can put in a short press release.

He has been working today on this as well and he hopes to have a full write up on the situation sometime soon. He will elaborate on Mr. Liebau and others, no doubt, at that time.

Thanks for the comment,


Anonymous said...

What has Liebau ever done to make this a better sport for the player?

Anonymous said...

Youbet (and other sites) spends money on marketing and R and D at least.

From a HANA member who has been researching who does what in this game:

"I just looked at's financials and their sales and marketing and research and development expense is approximately one third of their Gross Profit (aka Gross Revenue of Commissions and Contract Revenue less
track and licensing fees and contract costs) in 2007 and it seems to range between a third to a quarter depending on the year"

Imagine if horseman and tracks spent a third of gross on marketing? We probably would not be in this mess.

Anonymous said...

All the marketing in the world won't get customers to become regular fans. A game that can be beat by even a few gamblers is the only way to attract regular gamblers.
The industry has shifted their mentality since the 60's and 70's when they were hesitant to even bring in exotics because they were worried that fans would lose money too fast and be discouraged.
Now racing is set up under the baseball stadium model: Get as much as you can from the customer as quickly as you can because they might not be back for a while.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Platt calls for an immediate end to the dispute. Not that easy Jeff. The quagmire we are currently experiencing is a combination of bad judgement and poor planning by all.

The horsemen deserve a bigger share of the ADW revenues. This is the only growing segment of our business and the splits are archaic. Bob Reeves, head of THG began this crusade to represent the horsemen and I applaude his fervor but he is in way over his head. The problem is the business models that were set up and accepted 10 years ago when the internet was in its infancy. The whole ADW delivery of internet wagering is flawed. The tracks are basically giving away the content. Why do think Churchill laid out $150 large to enter the arena. the system needs a complete overhaul. the tracks should retain the takeout as they do with an on-track bet and pay the ADW's a commission to hustle the internet customers. JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER BUSINESS IN EXISTANCE. This would allow ample retainage to satisfy the horsemen and perhaps even lower the take out for you whiners. You are dead wrong when you say people will go play something else! Horse players are far more than gamblers. It is the desire to beat the game. Dont be so naive to think that they will abandon this arena. Bottom line, the system will have to change and the change will come from the tracks and the horsemen. face it they hold all the cards.

Anonymous said...

I agree, an overhaul is needed, Todd. But players are going elsewhere. Why do you think the business is swirling down the toilet when other forms of gambling are growing? No new players are being created. No winners are being created.

Anonymous said...

I dont know how the Cali guys getting a few more bucks put into purses can grow the game. We have tried that already and failed.

I think the business must change to results based reform: If it adds to handle it is good, if it does not it is bad.

I would like to see reforms from Cali and other places to get ahold of horse ownership costs. They are too damn high. Some sort of pooled buying and partnerships with the tracks to ease the cost of drugs (legal ones) should be what Mr Couto and others should be focusing on, and leave the betting to the ADW and tracks. They grew last year so dont mess with it.

Just my opinion, but I would like to see more leadership on ownership costs for sure.

Anonymous said...

Some poster said this earlier: You are dead wrong when you say people will go play something else!

What does he think has been happening in North America with falling handles the last two years or so?

Anonymous said...

For most of my life I loved the horses & football at all levels. Then came the players strike in football.

Since the strike I no longer watch, nor have any interest in football at any level.

Horse racing, at least for me, is going the way of football at the rate the different interests in horse racing are treating the people who make the sport viable, the betting fan. No fans ='s no sport!

The equation is simple folks - No Fans ='s No Sport. Very few younger people are attracted to horse racing - TOO much work effort for little or no return.

And then the fan has to deal with the trainers that use illegal drugs in addition to darkening a horse's form for the big barn score.

Horse racing will soon join Jai-Alai. That is it will be almost extinct