Thursday, December 31, 2009

Calling All Tournament Horseplayers - Opinion Wanted

HANA member Mike Mayo is the new player-head of the National Handicapping Championship and NHC Tour. He has compiled some questions via a survey on how to make it a better event. He wants your feedback:

"In an effort to improve the National Handicapping Championship (NHC) and the NHC tour, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Players Committee is soliciting your feedback. This is your chance to have a say in future events. With your help, we can make both the NHC and the NHC Tour bigger and better and capable of attracting and retaining racing fans from all walks of life."

From Mike: "We simply created the survey to find out what the players want. The NHC Tourney and the NHC Tour are the player's events. We are seeking information in order to make improvements to both. We are exploring ways to create more interest and participation."

The survey is right here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Horseplayer Issues Being Discussed - Even on Bloodhorse

Today there was a list of wishes for racing, via Alex Waldrop's blog on Bloodhorse.

Mr. Waldrop's constituency is mainly the industry, i.e. the folks who tax us at 22%, and generally would like us to bet, lose, go the ATM, lose more, and then come back tomorrow and do the same. But a funny thing: There were horseplayer wishes for the next decade in his list, too.

Lower takeout for all bettors
Elimination of tax withholding for players
Effective wagering monitoring technology for tote companies

Three fairly large issues, front and center. This is good news and something we have not seen from insiders, perhaps ever. Heck, the lower takeout message alone is a huge step. For years it has been considered heresy to say such a thing in a trade mag; it is rumored that those that did had to muck stalls as penance (but that is only a rumor).

The message from players (you, me, everyone) is starting to resonate (as well as handle losses I would surmise). Let's hope players speak louder and louder in 2010 and beyond and people like Alex are there to listen, and perhaps make the changes needed for the sport to grow.

Monday, December 28, 2009

11 Things I Really, Really Want to See in 2010 from Racing

As we turn the page from the zeros (I have no idea what the 00's are called) to the 10's I have a horseplayer list that I really, really, really want to see addressed in 2010. Yours may be different, so please let us know below in the comments section below.

Here are my 11 things I would like to see in 2010.

* I really, really want to see stewards inquiries explained to us, on camera. I got home one night last year and I flipped on racing in the middle of the night to see what was happening in Australia. The lights were flashing and there was a steward, on camera, chatting with a jockey. It was covered like a blanket. Another afternoon I flipped it over to Chester Downs in the land of harness. I saw a steward going through his decision on the air. I want to see that at every track in North America in 2010.

* I really, really, want to see a track (not some tiny track, but a big track) offer a takeout reduction with teeth. And I want it to run for a long while, none of this two week business. As Bill, HANA board member says: "It's like telling a fat guy (I wonder how I thought of this) that good diet and exercise is needed for the best health. Now that guy can either come back in a month and say, well I've tried it and I'm still fat and unhealthy and hungrier than before (similar to industry dropping takeout for a bit to "prove" that it won't work) or he can change his lifestyle and come back a year later after proper diet and exercise being as fit and healthy as ever. Long lasting change is needed with lower takeout to fix the industry."

* I'd really, really like Teri Hatcher to join HANA. She is a horseplayer, and I like Teri Hatcher.

* I'd really like our fellow horseplayers in Arizona be able to bet a race over the internet, without wondering if the cops are going to bust down their door saying "drop the mouse, now!"

* I'd really like to see TVG drop the per wager fee thing. For gosh sakes guys you have grown a huge internet betting company on low fees and low takeout. Get rid of it.

* Speaking of TVG, I would really like to see Matt hit like 14 pick 4's in a row. It would make some headlines, and people on would stop calling him names.

* I'd really like to see Philly Park management (or management at any track in PA) take 12 nano-seconds of slot profit and buy a horseplayer a coffee.

* I'd really like to see Twinspires, when they finish taking over Youbet, keep the good stuff Youbet has been doing for horseplayers, and not just swallow up their customers like a whale does plankton.

* I'd really, really like to win more photos in 2010. A few more inquiries would help, too.

* I'd really, really like to see HANA Advisory board member Cary Fotias speak his mind. In his interview in the Saratogian: "And I think vet stats should be published. We all know what’s going on, and the chemists are ahead of the testing labs. If you’re gonna juice horses, let us in on who is doing it." C'mon Cary, tell us what you really think next time.

* I'd really like to see the odds board at one minute to post look somewhat similar to what it looks like at the second call.

..... and I would like to offer my best wishes in 2010 to horseplayers everywhere. Happy New Year everyone.

We'd like to see this HANA-thing grow more in 2010. You can help by signing up here.

This opinion piece is from a HANA member. If you'd like to have your say, or want to add to this list, please do. We are available at info @ We want to hear from you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ray Paulick's #1 Story of 2009 - We Were Surprised too

In the recently concluded HANA survey you told us in huge numbers that you were concerned about late odds drops and the security of the tote. We were not overly surprised. However, when we checked a recent post at the Paulick Report where Ray and Brad counted down their highest traffic stories of 2009 we were surprised what was number one.

And so were they.

1. Hollywood Park Past-Posting Incident Under Investigation

At first blush, we were a little shocked that this story was number one. A past-posting incident, while surely problematic, is not the sexiest of topics. But when you consider it potentially hurt the pocketbooks of thousands of horseplayers across the country and the fact that we were first out of the gate with the story, it makes a whole lot more sense. Wouldn’t it be nice if the propeller heads at the tote companies were able to figure out how to stop betting when a race begins?

As you know from reading the blog, HANA VP Mike Maloney broke the story here in May, and Ray (with lightning speed) took it from there and did a whole bunch of digging.

We have heard a lot about past posting from those inside and outside the industry this past year. The insiders believe it is not much of a problem, despite the odd exception. Horseplayers seem to take it seriously, despite the odd exception. It is a dichotomous issue.

However, seeing it the number one traffic story on Paulick this past year should tell us at least a couple of things: Horseplayers have power (after all, you were energized to read and follow the story from here and elsewhere to Ray's site) and it is an issue that the business can not run away from, or gloss over.

In 2010 horseplayers are asking the industry to put forth a plan to overhaul and modernize the tote system. We hope they are listening.

To read the very interesting list at Paulick please click here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The HANA 2009 Year in Review

HANA was incorporated in September of 2008, borne out of a chat room session (or six!) at Our first full year was 2009 and we would like to recap what we have tried to accomplish, and in some cases did accomplish in 2009, as a group of concerned horseplayers.

In 2009, as a fledgling group of around 400 members, we began the year working on our track ratings system. After many meetings, emails, reading studies and so forth we settled on the measurable metrics for the system. Those were, field size, takeout levels and player-friendly bet variety. The University of Louisville study pointed out the benefit of added field size to handle, we all knew about takeouts thanks to numerous studies and common sense, and perusing chat boards and player comments, as well as handle changes, we knew wager variety was also important. After much work by board member, engineer and horseplayer Bill from Texas we released the Top 65 tracks in North America. A few weeks later we came up with version 2.0, which updated several figures, and we added 7 tracks. Keeneland was the number one rated track, and we created a new player resource section on our website whereby all these numbers could be seen by everyone in racing. It is one of the most popular pages on our site. We are very happy that some tracks for 2009 have taken some of the ratings to heart, and have begun to look for ways to improve.

The track rating system was a boon to membership numbers, and generated a lot of interest from members and the press. Being a small organization, funded almost solely by donation, we do not have the cash to promote our group via traditional means. Having the ratings released on Paulick, Bloodhorse and Equidaily helped us immensely. We thank each and every one of them, as well as all those in the blogosphere who helped us get the word out.

With Keeneland number one we decided to head to the Kentucky track for our very first HANA day at the Races. It was great fun to meet a whole whack of horseplayers and Keeneland threw out the red carpet. Everyone had a great time. While there HANA President Jeff Platt was interviewed on TVG. Not having any television experience Jeff was a bit antsy, but he pulled it off. It was interesting watching the signup page during his interview and the time immediately after - about 60 people signed up to HANA. We had reached 1000 members.

Also at Keeneland we got to meet Mike Maloney, the well known horseplayer. We knew Mike was our kind of guy when we saw him handing out HANA flyers all on his own. Mike joined the board as VP of Wagering Compliance in May. It was a welcome addition.

As well, in April at Keeneland, the table was beginning to be set for a change in the way scratches are delivered to horseplayers. Jeff Platt met with Hank at Equibase to start the dialogue on creating a "scratches today" area on the equibase site.

In late April we hit the conference circuit. Board member Dean presented at the Gaming Summit in Windsor Ontario on two panels. One, the future of wagering was about bringing the game to new generations and the second was on betting exchanges, and horseplayer concerns with the pari-mutuel system in general, versus fixed odds and peer to peer wagering.

About this time Ross Gallo and Mike Mayo proposed getting people together to bet some pools and build more of a following. We worked on bringing people together and achieved some excellent handle bumps in the process. More members signed on and we had a little fun doing it. With the summer blahs, and so much to do we discontinued that (it was a ton of work each week), but might revisit it in the future. We thank everyone who participated and helped, including Mike at Paceadvantage, Craig at Trackmaster, Craig at, Jerry Brown at Thorograph, Peter at the Perikan Money sheet, and everyone else we are sure to be forgetting.

In May, Mike Maloney was front and center on the Hollywood Park potential past posting incident. Ray Paulick picked up the story and ran with it. Wagering security, late odds drops and the general problems in the pari-mutuel pools became a big story in 2009. With our help we think the TPRB and others have it on their radar for this year, as was recently announced. We plan to keep the pressure on with this very important item. Also in May, Mike represented HANA in front of the Racing Commissioners panel on wagering integrity.

In June, the CHRB in California was looking at takeout hikes yet again. Jeff Platt put some pressure on them, and wrote an open letter to Kirk Breed. This letter was released on many chat boards and via email, as is the case with many HANA iniatives. We appreciate the support on these and other items.

In July we spoke to the new wagering honcho at Yavapai Downs Greg "Boomer" Wry, about trying to work together to make some changes in Arizona racing, and at Yavapai in particular. Jeff and several HANA members made the trip for the productive set of meetings. Jeff went back in October, and talks are ongoing in Arizona with the track, horsemen, and the state.

In September HANA made two new appointments: Charlie Davis from Seattle was appointed to the HANA board, and John Pricci of was appointed to the Advisory Board, joining Messrs Meadow, Mordin, Ziemba and Fotias. We welcome them both, and since their appointments they have been huge supporters - Charlie with the day to day work and John on his website and with industry contacts.

Thanks to feedback from Andy Asaro and others on Paceadvantage we created "HANA Reports" which is a webpage/blog where member feedback, or any pressing issue we are working on is to be updated. We scan websites, chatboards, facebook, our email, and anywhere else really for ideas on what to look into. When we have something we report it to players on this page.

Also at this time HANA's work with Equibase was made public and "Scratches Today" was borne. For the full story of how this came about Jeff wrote an article which Ray Paulick printed here. It took many months, but we thank Hank and crew for turning this idea into a reality. Some kinks need to be worked out, for example, NYRA is currently not participating, but we hope this grows and is perfected in the coming months.

In November we finally completed our 50 question HANA member survey. Well over 500 of you answered the questions on the survey. We have been a little lax in getting a lot of it out, but more and more will be released over the coming months. We would like to publicly thank Dan Needham for offering his expertise on this. He worked tirelessly to make it a reality and it was no small feat. For his work he was paid the princely sum of nothing; we can not possibly thank him enough.

For the first quarter of 2010 we are working on several items, which we hope to have some news for. One, the 2010 HANA track ratings are in the works. Two, we will continue working with Arizona to make some hopeful improvements there. Three, we are trying to set up a handicapping seminar/HANA day at Keeneland for the spring. In addition we will be doing what we always do: Keeping in contact with industry insiders on improvements (and letting them know when you are upset about something), blogging, issuing press releases and trying to grow.

At the beginning of 2009 we were very small and virtually unnoticed. At the end of the year we are growing larger, as well over 1400 of you have signed up and lent a hand, and we have been written about, too. The Bloodhorse, Equidaily, The Paulick Report, The Thoroughbred Daily News, Horseplayer Magazine, myriad blogs and many other places have carried letters, pieces, or linked to HANA. We thank each and every one of them for helping.

We received an email from someone influential in this business recently. In the email we thanked him for a mention and he replied "everyone should take HANA seriously. You are doing great work." It was high praise, and we hope to continue to earn that trust and respect in 2010 and beyond.

To the silent ones who we have not mentioned who have helped, through donations, work, or just lending support, you know who you are and we offer our sincere thanks.

To everyone who took time to sign-up for HANA, thank you for your continued support.

Have a happy holidays and a wonderful New Year,

The HANA Board of Directors, Jeff, Dean, Theresia, Bill, Mike, Maury and Charlie

If you would like to join us at HANA you can here. It's free.

If you would like to get involved, or join the conversation we can be found in plenty of spots:



Email: info @



Thanks again!

Monday, December 21, 2009

One Step Backwards, Two Steps Back

One would think it is 1910, not coming up on 2010. In New York the head of the Catskill OTB wants to ban out of state ADW's from the state. "Groth said out-of-state account wagering firms such as should not be allowed to accept bets from New York residents."

It of course, is all about the slice of a dwindling pie, and taking more money off of horseplayers (as well as inconveniencing them) through a de-facto takeout increase.

"Such ADWs offer New York residents rebates that OTB cannot afford and at the same time are not subject to the same statutory fees as OTB, he said."

So instead of asking for changes to compete and grow business, we run back to the protectionist dogma. Racing has a long way to go before we start growing the pie instead of fighting over it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Walk Through Takeout's Past

The Internet affords us plenty of opportunities to learn. We set up google alerts here at HANA. When HANA is mentioned, or if horseplayers are chatting about what they like or do not like about playing the horses, we are alerted. We got something interesting that popped up this morning.

I am not sure if the Baltimore Sun reindexed or what, but we got several alerts on "takeout rates" added to the inbox. It was a walk down memory lane.

First, in 1993 there was a story on the opening of Hialeah - and some takeout hikes. "Only this year will be different. Hialeah owner John Brunetti will do the unimaginable; he will make Hialeah the worst place on earth to play horses. Hialeah opens April 1, April Fools' Day for South Florida bettors. Brunetti plans to institute what is believed to be the highest takeout structure in the history of U.S. thoroughbred racing. The take on win, place and show bets will be 23.1 percent and there will be a 28 percent take on all other wagers. Winning money -- never easy at the track -- will be impossible at Hialeah."

16 years later I wonder how they are doing.

Second, another takeout hike in a story, this time in 2000, at Laurel. This price hike was to raise more money from horseplayers to fix up the track. I think it would have been better to lend a few folks at the simo-center a hammer and a nail and get them to pitch in that way. "The world's toughest game is about to get tougher. Betting on thoroughbred racing becomes more expensive today for fans in Maryland. With the blessing of the governor and General Assembly, the Maryland Jockey Club has raised the takeout - the money withheld from every wager."

The hilarious - some would call it sad - part about the above hike? Laurel came out with a press release 28 days later saying that takeout did not kill handle. "In my opinion, it's had zero impact so far," Mango said. Anyone - a bettor, an economist, heck a student with some decent math skills - will tell you takeout increases or decreases, based on churn, will take years to show its force. But the folks who ran this, based their measurable metric on what happened in less than a month.

We spoke about Tampa below, lowering takes each year, hoping to build a following and some on track churn. Their takeouts are becoming less and less. It was an interesting note in the above column about Tampa in the early nineties: "Tampa Bay also passed the cost on to its fans, now taking 20 percent from all straight bets and 28 percent on exotics.

Those numbers were insane. Thankfully, cooler heads have prevailed at Tampa (not through altruism, through common sense and a loss of business) and they are surviving.

That's a trip through takeout memory lane. It seems we have not learned much over the years.

Friday, December 18, 2009

TRPB Promotes New Tote Initiative

The Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau unveiled a tote security initiative designed to ensure that wagering ends before the start of a race.

The initiative would facilitate stop-betting across the entire pari-mutuel network at the start of every race.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday Notes

John Pricci weighs in on Tampa Bay at his website. On Saturday, Tampa had a record opening day handle. It is nice to see tracks who are lowering takeout get supported by horseplayers.

Stan Bergstien has an opine up on Betfair. ".... but never touched a central issue: How betting on horses to lose endangered the very spirit and purpose of the game - winning." I never quite understand this argument. If I want to fade the chalk and he loses, I am winning.

Via Equispace on Twitter, Four guys lose their job at Fidelity for talking fantasy football.

Monday, December 14, 2009

When Takeout was 5%

There is a fascinating post up on Colins Ghost (in my opinion one of the best, well written blogs out there) on how the pari-mutuel system came to be. It is an amazing account on how it was not embraced immediately, and how it became mainstream.

Back in 1908: "The public is gradually becoming impressed with the fact that the average of odds returned through the machines is better than formerly, when the books were in operation."

It seems that bookmakers, if you were out to bet $2, would not give you a very good price (probably not unlike today in the UK and elsewhere, where bookies have a high take on longshots). It does appear that way back over 100 years ago, bettors were looking at prices as a part of their wagering.

Of particular significance, was that price. Yes folks, the takeout was 5%.

"When Kentucky initiated the mutuel system after 1906, the takeout stood at 5% — a figure that seems quaint today."

Oh my, what we'd be betting with 5% takeout. I have spot plays that are 0.90ROI and are red light plays. They would become immediate green light plays with a low takeout. Instead I don't bet.

Gambling expert Wil Cummings said in his report to the industry in 2003: "the racing industry fails to understand that when raising takeout the $100 bet will not be $100 anymore." In 1908 they knew what to do. It is a damn shame we got "progressive".

I'll leave it to a talented scribe to sum it up. From Colins Ghost: "As wagering evolves in places where peer-to-peer wagering and bookmaking is permissible, the U.S. remains tied to a system that is conceptually brilliant but has become rigid and stultifying by the political forces that insist on sucking it dry."

Colin has the original DRF story linked, so for a bit of history, check it out!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Pie

Handle Pie

One myth that the racing industry repeatedly expresses is that the customer’s wagering dollar is like a pie, and every threat to racing is a threat to pilfer away some of our precious pie. Arguments supporting new ideas are immediately met with an accusation that it will take a big greedy bite.

The problem with this mentality is that it assumes the pie is fixed at a certain point, and that the status quo owns that much pie at any given point in time.

Racing though - like any industry - will rise and fall like a balloon based on simple economics; how many customers they have and how much money each spends. Economists call this demand. As most readers of this blog know, the primary demand influencer is price (in this case takeout) and the price of substitutes (in racing these would primarily be poker and sports betting).

I love logic so here’s a simple equation:

P1. The price of a good or service is inversely proportional to quantity demanded

P2. The price in the racing industry is the price of your bet, which is takeout


C. Increasing takeout will decrease wagering

For years the racing industry has acted as though takeout has minimal effect on demand. In other words the pie is fixed. In the past this would have been fairly true, because another influencer of demand is the price and availability of substitutes. Nowadays however, access to poker and sports betting is as simple as turning on your computer. The price of poker: 5%. (And you can even get a rebate on that.)

The racing industry talks in terms of takeout and customers, but it’s often as if they’re not even connected. If Betfair moves to a country and lowers the price, it not only results in more customers, but means an existing customer’s wagering dollar lasts longer. Getting hung up over a reduced price and not taking into account an increase in demand makes no sense.

And for those that say that most horseplayers don’t know or care about takeout, here’s this from CanGamble:
Horseplayers, like all gamblers realize when they come home with less money or more money. Lower the takeout, and bettors will come home with more money more often. This will be less discouraging than it is today with takeouts that average around 21% in the industry.

Lowering takeout allows bettors to last longer, and their desire to come back more often and play more often will increase.
If that increases, the likelihood that they expose friends, family, and/or coworkers to horse racing greatly increases.

This post isn’t saying lowering takeout or letting Betfair into new markets will be racing’s savior. Simply that the current attitude (looking at racing in terms of fixed revenue) is flawed.

Jules Boven is the Marketing Manager for Harnesslink and also runs a search engine marketing firm

Thursday Items

A big horseplayer thumbs up to NYRA for the Anti-slaughter policy announced today. You would not believe how horseplayers are behind such horse-centric issues. We hear from them all the time here at HANA.

Any owner or trainer stabled at a NYRA-operated track found to have directly or indirectly sold a horse for slaughter will have his or her stalls permanently revoked from all NYRA tracks.

Techno-talk: Twinspires is looking into apps and rolling out some new techno items for their internet platform in 2010.

Techno-talk II: Apps and new internet platforms will not succeed unless data is offered as free use, or affordable free use.

Community stuff: A member pointed out the Tampa Bay betting group online and working away at making some money at the meet that starts tomorrow. It's here if you are interested. To read our interview with Tampa's Peter Berube about lowering takeout and the upcoming meet, click here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wednesday Notes

Sign of the times? Mountaineer is chopping their schedule. h/t to Equidaily.

There are some good "tweets" coming from the Arizona conference. In real time you can follow some of the sessions. Overall you can see some by searching, like here. If you would like to follow someone, UShorseman is doing some fine reporting.

HANA Advisory board member John Pricci has a kick-butt column on late odds drops today. It is a neat discussion piece between two HANA board members, actually, as Cary was one of the first to lend us a hand here at HANA.

Jessica at Raceday360 links for us a piece: "I've spent time with companies that are shrinking their way to greatness. It doesn't work." Betfair exec at #RTIP More here.

Power Cap, in his usual no nonsense style, looks at NYRA versus Philly in this article. Nice illustration on how absurd some of the slots stuff has made the game of racing, from a fan and ROI standpoint.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Block Signals, Lose Customers

The current signal dispute between Tracknet and the Mid-Atlantic tracks seems to be at a standstill (note- we are reporting this at HANA Reports, as we get news).

One poster who is asking questions, hoping to be able to play racing and be a customer again is Mike. Mike writes:

"The player either goes offshore, enjoys his/her rebate and uninterrupted wagering signals and probably does not return to onshore pools. Or the player says screw this, I'm tired of the bs and decides to spend his/her dollar on something other than racing. Neither option is good for the game and the industry has no one to blame but themselves. That will of course be a problem being that the motto of this industry should be "It's not us, it's them!!!"

I've stated before that I'm a 30 year old horseplayer that wagers a considerable amount of money. You'd think racing would want to keep me around. They say they do, but their actions speak otherwise. This impasse is the final straw for me personally. If it doesn't get resolved by the time Gulfstream and Santa Anita begin, I walk away. It's actually not walking away, but more like being pushed out the door. Simple as that."

Maybe when we in racing complain we are not adding new fans to this grand game we can point not to an economy, or drugs in racing, or television time; we only need point to ourselves.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Trend Continues

"If the current trends hold, betting this year will be approximately $12.3 billion, the lowest figure since 1997. Racing hit a highwater mark in 2003, when handle was $15.2 billion. After hitting that mark, the figures slowly eroded for several years but then plummeted 7.3 percent in 2008."

More here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tampa Bay Downs - Lowering Take, Trying to Build Their Business

HANA had a phone chat with Tampa Bay Downs' Peter Berube about everything Tampa

A track lowering takeout? A track catering with on-track rewards programs? A track where the customer feels like he is wanted? These appear to be all things being tried at the Florida oval that is Tampa bay Downs.

Reaching Peter Berube by phone was not at all difficult. He is a player, and wants to talk racing. It is no secret that thoroughbred racing is going through tough times. If we had only held inflation since 1998 our overall handle would be approaching $19B. Instead, we are approaching $12B in 2009.

"We like many have lost the bigger player and they are tough to get back", says Berube.

At HANA this is no secret as our players have said they are playing less, or not playing much at all as compared to yesteryear. Bankroll growth, and interest in the game from the serious players perspective has lessened.

Despite this loss, Tampa is holding their own, and are doing so with good old fashioned price cutting and customer service. This year they have lowered takeout yet again. Only five years ago their takeout was almost 26% blended on exotics and close to 19% in WPS. This year, takeout on WPS pools is 17.5%, doubles 18%, horizontals 19%, exactas 20.5% and tris and supers 25.9%.

"I'm a player so I know about churn and takeout. Right now we are not seeing any major change in revenues, so if we can we will keep lowering it to find the right spot." says Peter.

In addition Tampa has added 50 cent pick 4's and tris, which as part of the HANA track ratings system was welcomed by horseplayers.

"I know that is something you [HANA] have asked for. I measure this and have for years, so we should be able to see if those bets help us", said Peter.

It does not stop there. Tampa has an ontrack player rewards program which is excellent. If you bet $8000 over the meet, for example, expect a 1.25% rebate. This places their effective takeout with the best overall tracks to play in North America in terms of price.

The exotics (pick 3 and pick 4) make for an interesting case study, and HANA believes that horseplayers should be well aware of how these lower prices can help him/her.

Let's do a simulation:

Player A plays $24 pick 3's at Tampa. He is a losing player and gets $110 back for each $120 bet in the pick 3's.

Player B plays at a track those same pick 3's in $24 bets, but at this track, the pick 3's have a 25% takeout.

What happens?

Player "A" at Tampa with the local rebate and lower takeout bets $118.50 for a return of $110, therefore experiencing bankroll shrinkage of $8.50 for each 5 bet sequence. Player "B" bets a full $120 for a return of $101.85 @ a 25% rake therefore loses $18.15 for each 5 bet sequence.

The Tampa player can churn $2808 (118 bets) before hitting ruin. Player "B" at the high takeout track will churn $1320 (55 bets) before going broke. The track nets $491.40 from player "A" (17.5% of $2808) and $330.00 from player "B" (25% of 1320).

In effect, you can play twice as long at Tampa with your bankroll as you can at the high takeout track!

This is not lost on players. It is a long held customer service contention that if you can turn your most ardent critics, you are doing something right. Rich Bauer is a player who takes his game very seriously. He after all, is the creator of, a website which informs players that racetracks are not doing what needs to be done for their customers. He is very dedicated to playing tracks that only he feels respect him, as we all should. When contacted, this often times vocal critic had this to say about Tampa:

"I've been going to Tampa since the winter of 2004. This year I will be there for all of January. It's about a 12-hour drive from where I live which can be done in a day although I usually break the trip into 2 days. I never really considered South Florida or SoCal for a racing vacation since I retired in 2004. Although we now stay on the Gulf, so it's about a 35-minute drive to the track, there are plenty of reasonable motel/hotel accommodations within a mile or two of the track. The place is clean and well kept. The employees are exceptionally friendly. The racing has improved every year and the turf course is as good as it gets. Valet parking is two bucks. So, what's not to like?

Tampa has been reducing takeout selectively and permanently for what I believe is now four years. Can you point to ANY OTHER RACETRACK that has done that? They do not have the luxury of being part of a major circuit. They do not have the luxury of significant purse supplements from alternative gaming. The management has a record of making measured changes in the betting platform as well as takeout and then monitoring how those changes affect their business. From a business perspective, it's hard to argue with their approach or their results."

In our recently conducted HANA survey, 59.6% of you said you would move a good portion of your play to a track that caters to your takeout needs. Tampa appears to be that track, so we encourage members to give this place a look. Nice weather, pretty deep fields, low takeout as compared to others where you will keep more in your pocket.

As Rich said "What's not to like?"

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To visit Tampa Bay's website you can here.