Friday, October 16, 2009

When The Sink Backs Up, Call a Plumber

There has been much chatter on takeout. At HANA we are happy about that, because it is a main platform plank, and we believe that it is vitally important. But as with much in racing, and its nebulous leadership, opinions come from pretty much everywhere. The morass of opinion seems to muddy the waters, not clear them.

Here at HANA we have not been nebulous in our looks at takeout, we have formed opinions based on one thing: Listening to gambling experts, whether they be consultants, gamblers or published study authors. We have tried to ignore the tangential opinion that is presented without fact.

One such person we have learned from is Wil Cummings. When Mr. Cummings was with Christiansen Associates he authored a comprehensive paper that we link quite often. In fact, you can read it too, here. If you are interested in learning about takeout, what it does, and how high prices have hurt racing, it is a must read.

Eugene Christiansen is one of those experts. He has over 30 years of experience as a consultant to many gambling businesses, or enterprises. He recently presented at the TRA conference. John Pricci, who was there, reported on that today. “Racing as an industry is more resistant to change than anything we’ve ever dealt with,” said Christiansen.

And that change is most resistant in pricing, something that Mr. Christiansen believes is far too high in our sport. “The fundamental problem is consumer pricing. The amount of money taken from bettors is not sustainable.” he said.

The comments on articles like the above are numerous, and sometimes troll bait. But invariably there will be some from a trainer or owner, or track exec. Someone who might train a horse, own a horse - someone who does not bet the game, and that comment will often times say "Mr. Christiansen is nuts. Takeout does not matter!"

Mr. Christansen, I am sure, if he needed advice on where to enter a maiden two year old, or what type of equipment change a horse needed, or if his colt should try the turf, will ask his trainer's advice. Because after all, his trainer is an expert on horse training and he is not. I guess my question is, why do some people (who know very little about gambling) not take his advice as a gambling expert the exact same way?

When my sink backs up I call a plumber. I do not call an electrician. Right now in racing we seem to have too many electricians trying to fix the toilets.

Racings pricing is too high. It is not even debatable any longer. The question now is, how low is too low. It is something, with people like Mr. Christiansen's help, we hope to find out. We just have to listen to people who know. They are standing right in front of us.

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