A recent story today focused on slot machines at Pennsylvania racetracks.
Thanks to more than $500 million in state slot machine taxes, a Pennsylvania horse-racing industry that was dying only a few years ago is now the envy of the nation.
The infusion of cash has nearly quadrupled purse money and put the Keystone State on the map.
Good news there. But how about for customers?
For our members who play harness racing they are not overly thrilled are they? When the tri and superfecta takeouts at Pocono are 35% why would they - that takeout is more than the Massachusetts state lottery!
How about for the thoroughbred tracks. Maybe they helped the customer with this massive influx of cash.
Well, Philadelphia Park is rated 63rd out of 72 tracks rated in North America in the HANA 2009 ratings. They received a takeout grade of "D".
Presque Isle must have done better so let's scan that sheet again. Whoops, no they did not. They are ranked 68th.
So a huge amount of slot cash and a "success story", huh? For HANA members who are horse owners it is a pretty good thing, for HANA members who are customers, it appears they have been left out.
Total handle in Pennsylvania fell 15.3% or almost $100 million between 2006 and 2008.
Philly Park has a new wager; 1,2,3 or something like that. They printed these fancy 3 page fold outs touitng the bet. Everything from how to play and how easy it is to win. No mention of takeout; you can guess it is in the 30's. Ask and thye don't know but instead say,"the payouts are great" The handle is about $500 a day. Last year they started a 30% pick 6, handle is about $500. They keep laying off mutual clerks and bartenders. Sometimes you can't cash a ticket or get a beer. At times you feel like they really don't want you there. Slots are great for the horsemen and the track owner. It's a disaster for the bettor. If the horsemen were paying attention, they would be concerned about the drop in handle; the state will not let their gravy train go on forever.
As wonderful as horse racing is, if you are serious about making money, I would suggest online poker as an alternative. The takeout is about 5%, there are "rebates" (called rakeback), and there are a LOT more dummies playing poker than horseracing, so parimutuelly speaking, the competition is a lot easier. Yes, it has it's frustration because there is luck involved, but how many times have we cursed the horse racing Gods for a stupid DQ or a the pinhead falling off when the horse stumbles when the gates open.
My first love will always be horse racing, but for serious money-making, well, you would almost do better playing the Pennsylvania lottery. Oh, wait, you CAN do better playing the PA lottery with its smaller takeout than the PA tracks! Of course, I say this in jest, but let's not fool ourselves, you can't beat ANY game paying a 35% tax.
It's all so sad.
I believe the 123 takeout is 35%.
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