Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tipping Point

In Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point, his premise is that a certain point is reached where a snowball occurs and it is down, down, down, or up, up, up. From reading the news, especially with the infighting of late, you could count on one hand how many times the customer has been mentioned. Andy Beyer once said that racing takes the rules of modern business and then feels that it does not apply to them. The debate seems to have been "if we put money into purses, we will grow" rather than "if we increase betting purses will grow." I don't know what business ever grew and prospered by only concentrating on the supply, and not demand-side. But racing seems to be one that thinks this is a super-duper policy.

Well perhaps we have reached the tipping point. Nick Kling in his latest piece looks at two members of the industry who are historically focused on the supply issues, finally speaking of demand.

[Chris] Scherf told bloodhorse, “This should be a wakeup call to our industry that ... we need to keep focused on the issues of pari-mutuel wagering and the bettors.”

Scherf added, “The first voice we need to listen to are the bettors. If we are not meeting their needs, and obviously we are not, we need to figure out ways to address those.”

Further (try and find where you have heard this lately, other than on some blogs......)

Scherf told the Paulick Report, “We’ve got to look into pricing (the takeout charge on pari-mutuel bets). We need to make the same kind of concerted effort on handle that is currently being made to improve the safety and welfare issues. The problem is we’ve got tracks and horsemen both saying they need more money in this economy. But the first thing we need is an engaged gambling public, and they should be at the top of the list.”

Also, TOC/THG exec Drew Couto joined the chorus.

Couto said, “We have to face two very important realities. First, we have allowed (racing) to basically disappear. It’s no longer a sport, but simply a justification to gamble and wager, and as a wagering proposition we know it’s not the most attractive. (We have to) make some very serious fundamental changes to focus on the sporting aspect of racing. We have left it largely to the tracks to be the stewards of the sport, and they only care about the financial side.”

And, hold onto your socks - someone speaking of a betting exchange!

He went on to say, “Second, we have to adopt new ways our fans can participate. New wagers, betting exchanges. We have to embrace these new ways of playing ... so it’s new and fresh. If we don’t begin to do things differently and find new ways to operate, we are bound to be the definitive example of what Einstein said.”

It has taken quite awhile - all the talk from the bettors and blogs and groups like HANA asking for lower prices, new ways to bet, and so on. But do not misunderstand this: This talk was a foreign thing only one or two years ago. It is not any longer. Your voice is being heard. It appears we have reached a tipping point - the customer matters.

We need you to keep this momentum going. Please join HANA by clicking here. It is confidential, easy and you will be doing some good for the game we all love.

1 comment:

Todaysdarkhorse said...

In Malcom's new book "Outliers" he discusses the true story behind success ... and it isn't always what we first thought. This industry needs to change the way they do business and you're right, paying attention to the player is a novel idea. It is a start.