PlayersBoycott

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday Action

A few things catching our eye at HANA this Thursday:

First up, there are some new polls at Paceadvantage.com which members might be interested in. Jeff is asking for a cross section of thoughts on takeout, Arizona's ADW law and more. If you are a member of Pace you can vote right here on them.

Second up, a fascinating piece by Cangamble on takeouts. Cangamble, the little buzzsaw he is, went through a bunch of old racing forms via the web, searching for takeout news, and betting news. He uncovered several articles on takeout........ from 1935. The articles showed that youbetcha racing was congnizant that raising them will help the sport. Takeout was around 10% at that time, and it was being raised slowly but surely. There were several people that wanted that stopped. It is an eye-opening piece that shows that handle has not fallen by accident, it was a grand plan of a misguided nature.

Steve Zorn has been researching this and other things. Steve is an insider and he has often been seen banging a lower takeout drum of late. He seems to believe that we do not know what the optimum takeout should be to maximize revenues, but he figures it should be lower. We agree.

He commented on Cangambles piece saying "maybe 10% is the right number." Steve, if you could get takeout across the board set to ten percent for a few years, you would not only be a slam dunk winner for racings commissioner, they will make one of those bronze statues of ya.

Steve's second part of his 'what it will take to fix racing' piece focuses on some pricing thoughts. It's worth the read.

Monday, July 27, 2009

So Players Don't Care About Takeout, huh?

There has been a lot of chatter lately about takeout. Recently, Dick Powell wrote at Bris about takeout and player behavior. "Read the racing blogs and takeout is a hot issue; probably the hottest. But players' behavior is often different from what they say. How many players go to a simulcast site and bet racetracks without having a clue what the takeout is? Management sees this time and time again and draws the conclusion that takeout is not that important and it can be raised without serious consequences. And often times they are right. We say one thing and do the other."

He is generally right on the surface, and unfortunately the racetrack execs cling to that shallow thinking, but as we all know as horseplayers, it is woefully misguided.

First, when a player gets a takeout reduction, the behavior of that player changes by quite a bit. When he gets back $100 instead of $92, he does not say to himself "I got back $8 extra, I am going to stuff that in a section of my wallet and then bring it home and put it in my piggybank". He simply has a $100 bankroll, instead of a $92 one, and churns that $8 back into the pools. Over time this makes him realize that he is closer and closer to becoming a winner, he bets more, and he gets serious about racing. He might not know it, but he is very price sensitive.

Second, it is specious to say that if a track offers a 5% takeout on a bet and if that bet does not explode, players are not price sensitive. The outward price sensitive players are either long gone - they are betting poker, or sports betting, or playing the stock market at $5 a trade - or they are already betting racing through lower takeout. If a player has signed up with Premier Turf Club, or Bet America, they are receiving lower takeout right now through rebates. They were price sensitive, tired of losing at 21.8% blended rakes and did something about it. Because they don't bet into some sort of a promotional gimmick bet says more about the game of racing than it does about them. Not to mention, these players already are getting whatever the promo offers anyway, so it will not change the way they bet.

The examples one can use to show how lower takeout will help players and the sport is long. For example, players work on spot plays and have for years. Most of their spot plays show a 0.95 ROI and are not bet. It is a bottomless pit of losing. What if tracks charged what slot machines charged for their take? Well suddenly that spot play becomes a winning spot play. The player is making a bit of scratch, he is seeking new spot plays and he is betting. Where that 0.95 ROI spot play generated zero handle at present rakes, it generates piles of handle at lower take. How about the Mark Cramer "fair value" bettor? Well he makes an odds line, and if in a 5 horse field he sees nothing that is over his line, he does not bet. If takeout is lowered? Well then he will have more green light bets, because the odds of the horses are higher, and can meet his odds threshold.

Hmmm, a bettor betting more money with more green light bets. Doesn't that sound like something we'd want to look into?

Unfortunately, other gambling games (the ones who are kicking our butts) have looked into this, and have implemented it. The sad part? Some of them have decades ago.

Las Vegas way back in the 1970's learned that their 20% slot takeouts needed to be reduced because if they did not send home more winners, they would not have future customers, and they would make less money. They did of course, and slots players responded by betting more. Slot machines can have as low as a 1% takeout in Vegas in '09. The Massachusetts lottery did not say "lottery players are degenerates and only play because they are hooked, so we will not change takeouts" when they lowered lottery takeouts from 60% to 31%. They did it because they knew lottery play would explode, because returning more to the players will get them to rebet, and rebet and rebet. Massachusetts is the most successful state in terms of lottery revenues, and they charge the lowest takeout. Coincidence? I doubt it.

When a lottery's takeout is lower than some superfecta takeouts in racing, I think we can all agree that we have a serious problem.

What makes this doubly perplexing, is you would never hear anyone say that lotto players or slots players are price sensitive like horseplayers should be - but they are. Just like horseplayers, whether they know it or not is the only question.

I guess for racing, the most salient example anyone can use that players seek out and use lower takeouts to bet more which increases profits, is Betfair. The UK has always been well ahead of North America in terms of betting logic and economics (in fact, Tony Blair in 2000 abolished the 6.75% tax on wagers there, and those 'non price sensitive' bettors responded by increasing their wagering by 70%). In 2000 when the government allowed Andrew Black and Ed Wray to offer racings bettors lower prices with their new company, one can honestly say that old-time racing did not take them seriously. Many bookmakers and TOTE companies looked at them as nothing more than a novelty. That novelty, by offering lower takeout, has grown from 2000 customers in year one, to 2 million customers in year eight. They take more wagers a day than all the European stock exchanges do in trades. They are the third largest internet company in the world, trailing only a couple you might have heard of, Facebook and Wikipedia. They have energized bettors and they have grown. By rallying around the needs of all those players who don't all win, but who think they have a shot to win, they have created a massive business.

Racing itself could have been Betfair and grown the sport themselves, but I fear that they would have tried to charge 20% takeouts for the bets, causing it to fail; then concluding that it would not work. Just look what some are trying to do with ADW betting, by asking for the same price over the internet as they do at a racetrack for evidence of that. Thank goodness that did not happen, or even more horse race bettors would be at home playing chess, or watching football instead of enjoying racing. That's the last thing we need.

In North America, all we seem to hear from the braintrust is "well, Laurel went to 10% takeouts for a week and it didn't work". Instead of trotting out the results of a short term gimmick that was doomed to fail, they should do themselves a favor - take off the blinkers and use some common sense. If they do, they will see for themselves that lower takeout is not just for others, it is for us too. And if that happens, we can set the table for this great sport to grow again.

Please join us and help us change racing. Your membership in HANA is private, free, and appreciated.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ellis Here We Come! Free Stuff Added!



This week we move to Ellis Park for the Ellis Park Turf Stakes, Race 9 on Saturday. Ron Geary is a friend to horseplayers (he is one), so it is time to return the favor! Watch the blog for free PP's and more!

Free PP's and more.

Thoro-Graph data is available here.

We would like to thank Ellis Park President Ron Geary for showing his support for HANA.

The "Hana Pool Party" is a concept first detailed by HANA members and long time horseplayers, Mike Mayo and Ross Gallo (explained in detail here). In a nutshell, we hope to pool a significant following of horseplayers, and horseplayer money each week, to bet into a specific pool, or track. We hope that the concept can mushroom and raise awareness of horseplayer-centric issues that can make our game a better one to play, and grow the sport of horse racing. No amount of betting is too small, we appreciate every dollar played.

Previous pool parties resulted in a doubling of some pool targets (e.g. Will Rogers and Tampa), and spiked pools at larger tracks in a significant way.

We thank all the organizations which have helped us promote the concept, with free past performances (Trackmaster), selections (Trackmaster and the Perikan Money Sheet), figures (pacefigures.com and thorograph) linking (Equidaily, Paulick, Green But Game, the TBA and many bloggers who are playing each week) and ad networks/chat boards( Hello Race Fans and Paceadvantage.com). I hope we are not forgetting anyone! We love the support and can not do it without you.

Thank you all, and good luck at this weeks race! To handicap the race and discuss and plan future Pool Parties, please join the Handletalks Yahoo group and have a some fun.And don't forget to join HANA here. It's free!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Two Meets Report Handle. Could They Be Any Different?

Indiana Downs reported their handle figures for the recently concluded meet today.

The Indiana Downs product generated nearly $61 million in total handle, an increase of 19.5% from 2008. Average starters per race for both the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse programs also increased from 8.6 in 2008 to 8.8 in 2009. "We keep finding ways to bring new outlets on board. We had Canada on board this year. Hopefully we can find a few more markets."

Conversely, so did Hollywood Park.

Using the track's figures, Hollywood had a drop in total all-sources handle of about 18 percent from last year's 60-day meet.


That is quite a juxtaposition. However in several ways it is explicable, if we look at what drives handle.

Field size was up in Indiana. Field size at Hollywood was poor. Larger field size equates larger handles.

The signal at Indiana Downs has never been tinkered with. They offer it out, at a low price, so virtually everyone who wants to play it can and have been able to for some time. Hollywood on the other hand has had signal disruptions as recent as last meet. In addition, because Indiana offer their signal out at a very good price, places that rebate to small and large players can use that edge to lower the effective takeout to players. Hollywood charges a high signal fee. Lower signal fee = Lower takeout for players = Higher handle. This is why HANA was publicly and vociferously opposed to the THG "1/3, 1/3, 1/3 model" they were pushing last year regarding signal fees - it would have been a takeout increase, and takeout increases hurt handle.

Short fields on poly versus large fields on dirt will tend to be at a disadvantage as well with horseplayers who have myriad choices. Indiana won that battle.

We make raising handles in racing some sort of nebulous and unattainable ideal. The empirical data shows otherwise - if you offer your product out to anyone who wants it without holding them for ransom, make it bettable and competitive, make field sizes large, and offer your signal at a low cost so ADW's are allowed to lower the takeout on their players, your handle will show improvement. This is proven time and time again to be a successful alchemy.

H/T to "Inside the Pylons" at Paceadvantage.com.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Zorn on Downsizing

Cutting racedates has been a hot topic for horseplayers for a long time. We all know, looking at a simo-center or our ADW screen that there is racing going on simultaneously, at tracks we have never heard of, and it is clearly not optimum. Steve Zorn analyzes this and asks if it is time to downsize.

The post will not get him on any horseman group holiday card lists, however the well thought out post, is a must read for fans of this sport. You can read Steve's post here.

When we initiated the HANA Track Ratings System we took some criticism from a few folks in the press for not adding venue setting, track surface, field quality, or even the price of hot dogs as part of the criteria. Some even went so far to call our ratings a 'gimmick'. The simple fact was, our system was not pulled out of thin air, it was done for a reason. For example, we added field size as a main metric because when field size goes up by one horse, players have a better race to play and handle goes up by close to 5%. It is irrelevant if the track has stakes horses, pretty flowers or cheap beer, it goes up by 5 points. We wanted insiders to make field size a priority, to help racing handles. Steve's post, and many others in racing are now talking field size, more and more. This is a good thing because it helps everyone in our business.

In his next post he is speaking of another one of our core metrics in the ratings - pricing. I know he reads the HANA posts and comments here, so let's see what he comes up with.

We're counting on you Steve :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pool Party at Mountaineer: Free PP's and More



All the free stuff for the race in one spot!

The "Hana Pool Party" is a concept first detailed by HANA members and long time horseplayers, Mike Mayo and Ross Gallo (explained in detail here). In a nutshell, we hope to pool a significant following of horseplayers, and horseplayer money each week, to bet into a specific pool, or track. We hope that the concept can mushroom and raise awareness of horseplayer-centric issues that can make our game a better one to play, and grow the sport of horse racing. No amount of betting is too small, we appreciate every dollar played.

Previous pool parties resulted in a doubling of some pool targets (e.g. Will Rogers and Tampa), and spiked pools at larger tracks in a significant way.

We thank all the organizations which have helped us promote the concept, with free past performances (Trackmaster), selections (Trackmaster and the Perikan Money Sheet), figures (pacefigures.com and thorograph) linking (Equidaily, Paulick, Green But Game, the TBA and many bloggers who are playing each week) and ad networks/chat boards( Hello Race Fans and Paceadvantage.com). I hope we are not forgetting anyone! We love the support and can not do it without you.

Thank you all, and good luck at this weeks race! To handicap the race and discuss and plan future Pool Parties, please join the Handletalks Yahoo group and have a some fun.And don't forget to join HANA here. It's free!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pool Party - Mountaineer this Friday!



All the free stuff for the race in one spot!

Calling all Players

We had an interesting discussion at Paceadvantage recently about how HANA should tackle issues, and what they should be tackling. This is a worthwhile discussion, so as we do often times when members ask questions or offer suggestions, we blog about it.

Generally, we get a lot of ideas thrown our way. Each board member probably has 200 things that they want to get done, members give their thoughts and that list grows and grows. I am happy to say we do not have a dearth of ideas, but we do have a dearth of help. An idea without help to achieve it, will be stuck in the idea vault, because we are a volunteer organization, and everyone who works daily at HANA has a job and a family.

We truly need to have people championing ideas, because we do not have enough hours in the day, nor the workforce to champion all of them ourselves. But when one champions an idea they become part of making it happen. The NTRA player panel can have ideas thrown their way and they can put their paid staff onto it. We have no paid staff. We have four or five people doing this in their spare time.

As an example, the HANA Pool Party was not Jeff or Theresia's idea, it was Ross Gallo and Mike Mayo's who were HANA members that none of us even knew personally. What they did was emailed us with a blog piece about trying to build a moveable amount of money per week to effect change. They offered to work at it, and wanted to see if it would be something worth pursuing. Ross and Mike, in effect, offered an idea, but most importantly offered to champion that idea. Ross now runs the Handletalks group over at Yahoo and runs the pool parties (with over 100 members, way to go Ross). Without Ross and Mike taking the ball and running with it, this idea never sees the light of day. We are lucky to have members like Ross and Mike at HANA.

This was not unlike another idea that was thrown our way in March, however the end result was completely the opposite. Rich Bauer, god bless him, as he is about as passionate a horseplayer there is, offered out an idea about a handicapping contest. He wanted it to be done at Tampa Bay Downs (a track very player friendly) and he would supply the prize money. It was a fantastic idea that we all loved. We would help promote HANA, and Rich can support us with the prize money. We went to it as it was an awesome idea.

Unfortunately the task needed several things: Software to run the contest, and/or some programming. A contest master. And numerous promotions on the web (we wanted to try and get mentioned everywhere, as at Paceadvantage.com we were already well known). Jeff worked on this for a bit, then life and other issues got in the way. Jeff was programming the website for the track ratings among other items for the site, and working on HANA Day at Keeneland, (he also had a big project for his own job at that time). How about Bill, another board member? He was finishing the track ratings and working on Version 2.0 to be published. This was a huge job. Me? I was working on the HANA Ratings with bloodhorse. We had to edit and re-edit ten pieces of over 12,000 words, not to mention write them. In addition I was tasked with marketing it over the web, and issuing the releases to various entities, answering questions and blogging about it (not to mention hitting all the chat boards to promote it). I had to present at a conference for HANA at the end of the month as well, so that was going to take time. Theresia? She was in charge of HANA Day. It was also tax time at work, so she was working 14 hour days already. She was working on getting quotes from all the HANA tracks as well. John? He works for a TV station and they had a month long project on and he could not help. John was already in charge of another project for HANA anyway, and even if he had the time he could not get this going. Rich was retired and clearly could not champion the idea, and frankly with the amount he offered us for the contest, he in no way should have been expected to run it. It would have been nothing more than a slap in the face to someone who wanted to help, to ask him to find people to run it.

We asked around for some web help for the contest, found none, so we had to put that fantastic idea on the backburner. It was an absolute shame. We had someone wanting to help like Rich, with a great idea and we could not execute it. We were happy Rich gave us a donation anyway. We hope to use that money on polling, database software, webhosting and a few other items.

So I guess that is it in a nutshell: We love ideas, we love the passion, we love members giving us those ideas. But we really need people to champion them - to take the ball and run with it.

If anyone reads anything on the Mission Statement, has an idea, or might even want to add to the mission statement to force change in our sport, here is the best way to go about it:

* Offer out your idea and email it to us at info@HANAweb.com
* Detail what needs to be done to force the change
* Come to a meeting and present it to members
* Offer out ways in which you can help, or if you know a group who will help achieve that goal, by championing that idea.

We have had a couple of you do exactly that, like Ross and Mike, and we can not thank you enough. Right now each board member is flush on each issue that we are working on presently. If something new is added we need the help to get it done. We are calling on players for that help and if you want to offer some, our door is open and we can not thank you enough.

Thanks for reading and thanks to everyone who has helped HANA in the past, and their continued support in the future.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Crack in the Slots Wall

Today, it is reported that there is a movement going on in Pennsylvania political circles to cut slot funding from racing. The Pennsylvania harness horsemen have (opens into a pdf file) "issued an alert urging its members to contact their state representatives immediately due to reported Republican caucus discussions about cutting or eliminating the state’s racing fund."

“If the racing fund is cut or eliminated altogether, it will create disastrous long-term results for dubious short-term benefits,” said Earl Beal Jr.

It has long been opined by many that slots funding and slots deals will not save racing. It will be a band-aid, nothing more and nothing less. Some have said it will take a decade, maybe two decades for cracks in the wall to appear, but they seemed to be off several years. It is happening right now.

HANA have a formed a strong opinion that customers of racing will be the only revenue stream our game has, at some point in the future. Cultivating the fan and customer base is of utmost importance to racing. Although we do not take any glee in seeing the above headlines, we certainly hope that headlines like this serve as a wake-up call. Machines with cherries on it will not preserve racing, people betting on horses will.

Pennsylvania, despite a massive influx in slot revenue, possesses some of the highest takeouts in North America. That is clearly not the way to cultivate a racing fan base.

For a quick take on how some think about how slot money should be used to grow our sport, instead of its current implementation, try "If I was Kentucky's Racing Czar" right here on HANAblog.

If you'd like to see the change needed in racing to help racing grow, please join us. It's free.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

State of the Game - Trot Magazine

In last month's Trot magazine - a harness racing publication - a survey of industry insiders and horseplayers occurred. They were asked several questions and asked to elaborate. The fun part was they were asked to give an odds line on something happening, or not happening in racing in terms of the year 2050. It was eye-opening.

Question 1: The Chance that Drugs be Eliminated from Racing by 2050?

Owners: 17-1
Horsepeople: 5-1
Track Executives: 50-1
Horseplayers: 35-1

It seems that the players and the track managers are the ones with a malaise about drug use in the sport and see no end is sight, while insiders believe that the tough task is achievable. This might not be surprising. Tracks want to ban participants with long rap sheets and horseplayers do too. Horseman groups tend to defend them, under the auspices of "due process".

Question 2: Odds that Racing will be Governed by a Single Commissioner by 2050?

Owners: 12-1
Horsepeople: 14-1
Track execs: 30-1
Horseplayers: 12-1

Some consensus there, which I found surprising. Track execs and horsepeople seem to like to call the shots in this game, so them being a little higher is probably not surprising.


Question 3: By 2050 the number of racetracks will be cut in half?

Owners: 4-1
Horsepeople: 4-1
Track execs: 2-1
Horseplayers: 5-2

Every group knows the future looks bleak

Question 4: Harness Racing will be banned in 2050 in at least one jurisdiction due to animal rights issues?

Owners: 50-1
Horsepeople: 65-1
Track execs: 48-1
Horseplayers: 30-1

This is kind of shocking is it not? New Hampshire just banned dog racing and the politicos in Central Park are looking to ban horses. This could happen in 40 years one would think?

Question 5: The Sport will be self-sustaining without slot money by 2050?

Owners: 60-1
Horsepeople: 48-1
Track execs: 50-1
Horseplayers: 50-1

Everyone agrees that slots are not the answer. What I wonder is, why the hell are we not doing something proactive with slots money to grow the demand side of the sport so this does not happen?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

"Physical Attracktion"


In today’s horse racing, it is increasingly important that tracks put in an extra effort to entice new fans to come and old fans to leave the comfort of betting from home to attend live racing. Tracks which are aesthetically pleasing have a significant advantage in gaining and retaining patrons. The attractions are not only exciting races with powerful equine athletes, but also magnificent surroundings. Such features have the power to impress newcomers and reinvigorate lifelong fans.

My personal favorite sight is morning workouts. Training open to the public is a great way to attract new fans. Here there is constantly a horse to look at. They travel at different speeds, from a walk to an all-out drive, and you can really pick out the good and bad movers. Their sheer strength is evident in their popped-out veins, arched necks, and the muscled arms of their exercise riders. I am always amazed by the body heat the horses work up. Steam shoots out of their nostrils like a steam engine, and gently wafts from their skin on cooler mornings. It is even more amazing with an orange glow from a sunrise. As the morning progresses, the aura moves from the cool colors of the night to the warm colors of the day.

Not many sunrises are more beautiful than those viewed from Clockers’ Corner at Santa Anita Park, where the undulations of the San Gabriel Mountains are gradually lit as the sun rises higher into the sky. The litter of losing tickets and other discarded items has yet to populate the ground. The cement is clean except for the stray clumps of Pro-Ride fiber. The occasional parrot flies over the track, and peacocks call from the arboretum across the street. The famous teal-colored grandstand looks amazing when it is lit up in the dark, and later when the panels of the box seats shine golden reflections in your eye.

Santa Anita is my heaven on earth. There, attention is paid to almost every visual detail, and even the rougher parts are endearing. Silver patterned wallpaper, golden metal lamps with celestial cutouts, and English statuary are among the little details that together make a big impact. This is in stark contrast to a warehouse atmosphere where it feels like the track only cares about taking your money at the betting window.

Good aesthetics are certainly not limited to Santa Anita. Two other tracks that I have visited, Hollywood Park and Del Mar, also have physical features that create a pleasing ambiance. Hollywood, “The Track of Lakes and Flowers,” has an infield with ponds, waterfalls, flora, and fauna to draw your gaze. A flock of pink flamingos is the highlight. Behind the grandstand is a tree-filled paddock and a secluded gazebo built over a creek. At Del Mar, beautiful paddock flowers share the spotlight with beautiful people.

A track that pays attention to visual details is a more pleasant place to be and is more likely to attract more patrons, who in return are more likely to bet more races!

Marcie Heacox is an avid racing fan and self-taught photographer and artist. She is a full time student at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, with a major in Communications with an emphasis in journalism. Her career goal is to work for a top Thoroughbred racing publication. To view samples of her stunning photography please visit her website here .

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

HANA Newsletter VOL 3 - Summer 2009


HANANews Summer 2009


In this Edition of HANANews............


* HANA Welcomes Mike Maloney to the Board
* HANA Meets With Equibase
* HANA Represents Horseplayers at the Gaming Summit
* HANA Pool Parties are on the Rise; Ross Starts Handletalks
* HANA’s Website Breaks Traffic Records
* HANA Player Resources Page Up and Active
* Arizona Horseplayers..... Let's Get Going!
* How You Can Get Involved and Help!
* Checklist Items and Where to go Next

For a web copy of this, please visit our blog at http://blog.horseplayersassociation.org/


To come (and we are always looking for help with this!)............ The ADW Ratings ........... HANA on Pool Integrity.......... and more!

First off, a big thank you to all of the new members who have signed up. The past three months at HANA has seen our membership grow by almost 100%. We currently have over 1250 members, and you represent a fantastic cross-section of bettors, owners, and fans. We could not be happier with our progress and we can not thank you enough!

Mike Maloney Appointed Vice President of Regulatory Affairs

In early May, after meeting and discussing many horseplayer issues at HANA Day at Keeneland, Mike Maloney of Lexington Kentucky was added to the Board of Directors. Mike has been an owner, horseplayer and passionate race fan for many years, and has represented horseplayers at industry conferences and meetings. Mike’s passion, as witnessed by his presentation to the Arizona Symposium on Racing and Gaming in 2007 where he relayed the incidents of past posting at Fair Grounds to racing executives, is wagering security. Not long after he joined the board, he noticed that past posting incidents were still occurring and he made public a recent Hollywood Park race which was closed after the bell. Mike wrote a blog piece on the subject, which was in turn picked up by Ray Paulick of the Paulick Report. The wheels were then set in motion and the industry had, for perhaps the first time, to respond to horseplayers. It was an auspicious debut for Mike as a HANA Vice President.

In addition, Mike presented at the RCI Conference at Lexington, on many of the same issues. If you would like to drop Mike a line, please do. He can be reached at Mike@Hanaweb.org.

HANA Meets With Equibase..... and Works on Issues


Jeff Platt and crew had a long session of meetings with Equibase management in Lexington. From Jeff via our blog: “I met with Hank Zeitlin - President and CEO of Equibase. Hank was kind enough to sit down and talk with us - and then introduce us around and give us a tour of the IT Center. I never before realized that Equibase was part of the Jockey Club and just how much they do. One thing we did do was start a dialogue about one area where (my opinion) the industry could do a better job of disseminating information to players. We are working away on that and hope to have some more information available later in the summer on any progress we make."

HANA Represents Bettors at the Canadian Gaming Summit

In late April, HANA represented horseplayers on issues at the Gaming Summit in Windsor, Ontario. HANA was asked to be on two panels: “The Future of Wagering” where horseplayer issues were discussed on how to make wagering fresher and more relevant in the future. The second panel was on Fixed Odds Wagering and HANA presented that late odds drops are killing horseplayers where they can not use their odds line, and are not confident in the integrity of the pools. Fixed odds wagering is something that should be looked at by the business, if they are unwilling to fix outdated tote technology. On the same panel, from England was Mark Davies, Managing Director of Betfair. After the presentation, HANA met with Mark and discussed the issues. In addition to fixed odds wagering, we discussed Betfair’s acquisition of TVG and relayed several horseplayer concerns regarding high takeout and the wagering fee at TVG. Mark immediately put us in touch with TVG President Gerard Cunningham and he has agreed to meet with HANA. We will keep everyone posted, and if you have any concerns or questions for TVG, please email us at info@Hanaweb.org and we will be sure to address your questions with TVG for you.

Jumping Into the Pool with HANA!

Ross Gallo and Mike Mayo put forth the idea of a weekly betting race, hopeful that a pool of money can be moved each week so horseplayers get a seat at the table, and are noticed. A noble idea indeed and we have been working it for two months now. We have had some success, and we thank everyone who has participated.

If you would like to be a part of the management and direction of the Pool Parties you are very welcome to. We have a good bunch of guys and gals who chat about the race at http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/handletalks/ . All you have to do is join, so please do!

For background on the pool parties, please click this link. http://blog.horseplayersassociation.org/20...d-we-stand.html

And each week please check the blog. We have free PP’s, thorograph sheets and much more for the race. We thank everyone who has helped (you know who you are and we appreciate it!!!!).

HANA’s Presence is Growing!

It has taken some time but we are very pleased that the website and blog have both achieved traffic records. The interest from major media for your group has been pretty stout. We have been linked, or are linked at pretty much every major racing website, both thoroughbred and standardbred, and even mentioned on the AP wire and in newspapers. This has helped tremendously. As you all know, we have very little money and do not charge a membership fee, so free media is what we use to get noticed. If you have not passed around the HANA links, please do. We need your help.

Media has been solid for the last quarter. We have had a feature in a harness magazine, been interviewed on Trot Radio (another harness site), and have been interviewed live on TVG (click below to watch Jeff’s interview). In addition we were very pleased that John Pricci interviewed us for his fine website Horse Race Insider. Visit John and tell him thanks!



Player Resource Page


HANA’s Resource Page is now active. We are really pleased (thanks Bill for working your butt off on this!) to have a comprehensive sortable spreadsheet of a North American track list. You can see and sort takeouts at all tracks by wager and much, much more on this page. If you are interested, please click here. http://www.horseplayersassociation.org/playerresources.html

Arizona Here We Come

Recently Greg "Boomer" Wry has been rehired as both track announcer and director of racing at Yavapai Downs. Boomer is a HANA member and we could not be happier for him, and for horseplayers. Last week his boss, Gary Striker, extended an invitation for HANA to do a day at the races - date to be determined.

However, Jeff just got off the phone with Boomer and it looks like the dates are now set. We'll be doing a two day event: Sat August 8, 2009 and Sun August 9, 2009. Yavapai has promised us a room in the clubhouse and a nice spread buffet free to HANA members on those dates. There'll also be a cash bar for those who want to cut loose a little.

While there, in addition to doing a member sign up drive - HANA will be meeting with track management from YAV and TUP as well as key decision makers from the AZ horsemen, faculty and students from the U of A Racetrack Industry Program, and (hopefully) members of the AZ Racing Commission.

Want to be part of this? HANA's goal is to get everybody on the same page - We want to see horseplayers in AZ get full support from Arizona's racing industry and together do a grass roots campaign to get Arizona's ADW law changed (the law which makes taking bets over the Internet in Arizona a felony). Right now there are only 27 HANA members who reside in AZ. By the end of this summer we'll need to see several hundred new AZ HANA members if we are to have any chance of convincing state lawmakers and regulators to effect change in the one state where it's needed the most.

If you want positive change for racing this is a golden opportunity. Please join us should you be in the area and please pass along this message to any horseplayers you know in Arizona and get them to sign up for HANA.

Want to Get Involved and Help?


Recently we had a long discussion with several members regarding our contact information. How to get in touch with us, get involved in whatever issue you are passionate about, or just to say hello with a comment or suggestion is encouraged. We get loads of email, and have had many meetings with members who are interested, and we want to encourage that as we need the synergy of members to grow. Here is a full list of places that we can be contacted. We look forward to hearing from you! Currently we are looking for volunteers for a number of things: Web help, data gathering (eg helping with the ADW ratings), blog writing, and much more.

Email: horsplayersassociation@gmail.com, info@Hanaweb.org or any of our first names followed by @Hanaweb.org

Blog http://blog.horseplayersassociation.org/

Web http://www.horseplayersassociation.org/

Resources http://www.horseplayersassociation.org/playerresources.html

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Horseplayers...ica/44663680571

Twitter http://twitter.com/HplayersAssnNA

Handletalks Chat Group http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/handletalks/

Paceadvantage HANA Chat Board

http://www.paceadvantage.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=61

In addition to that (and the previously mentioned Arizona weekend) you can meet up live with Jeff and Theresia this weekend at Hollywood Park if you are in the area and planning to go. Just shoot them an email!

Items


For the past six months HANA has a checklist of the following items which we have pursued, and there are a few thrown in which we have planned. We thank everyone that gave us the time, and thank board members who attended these meetings.

We have met with the Keeneland board of directors.

We have met with Equibase.

We have spoken in front of the Racing Commissioners panel on wagering integrity. We are also working closely with Kentucky racing on various issues as a player representative.

We have presented on two topics at a recent wagering conference: the future of wagering and lower takeouts and new forms of betting.

We have met with the Managing Director of Betfair.

A board member has met and spoken to the President of Youbet regarding signals.

A board member has met with the TOC regarding rebates, lower takeout and signals.

A board member has met with the President of Hollywood Park.

We have been represented at the CHRB meetings regarding takeout hikes and rebates (they wanted to raise takeout in March, and we hope our letters made a difference).

We have a meeting scheduled to hopefully commence with TVG

We tentatively will be meeting with Woodbine Entertainment.

We thank everyone for their time and support.

Last Up

Please visit us at our blog. We update that daily and we love your feedback. We hope to have member polls (thanks to a member who donated his time for helping out with that ) sometime very soon.

Thanks again to everyone for reading, and good luck and good racing. We’ll see you in the fall.

Your HANA Team

To purchase HANA Gear please visit our HANA Store (every penny goes back into HANA).
http://www.cafepress.com/hana_swag

Our HANA Pins are selling like hotcakes (well we are not selling them, we are just looking for a donation and we will send you one). Please click here for our pin page.
http://www.horseplayersassociation.org/hanapins.html

Thanks again to all who have purchased pins and apparel.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Yavapai Downs HANA Meetings; Calling all Arizona Horseplayers

You guys are probably already aware that Greg "Boomer" Wry has been rehired as both track announcer AND director of racing at Yavapai Downs. What you may not be aware of is this: Last week his boss, Gary Striker, extended an invitation for HANA to do a day at the races - date to be determined.

I just got off the phone with Boomer and it looks like the dates are now set. We'll be doing a two day event: Sat August 8, 2009 and Sun August 9, 2009.

Yavapai has promised us a room in the clubhouse and a nice spread buffet free to HANA members on those dates. There'll also be a cash bar if you want to cut loose a little.

While there, in addition to doing a member sign up drive - I'll be meeting with track management from YAV and TUP as well as key decision makers from the AZ horsemen, faculty and students from the U of A Racetrack Industry Program, and (hopefully) members of the AZ Racing Commission.

Want to be part of this?

It's going to cost you...

My goal is to get everybody on the same page... I want to see horseplayers in AZ get full support from Arizona's racing industry and together do a grass roots campaign to get Arizona's ADW law changed. Right now as I type this there are only 27 HANA members who reside in AZ. By the end of this summer we'll need to see several hundred new AZ HANA members if we are to have ANY chance of convincing state lawmakers and regulators to effect change in the one state where it's needed the most.

If you want positive change for racing this is a golden opportunity.

If you haven't already done so, click the sign up link and become a HANA member. And then tell a friend about us and pass on the url. And tell them to do the same thing.

Sincerely,


Jeff Platt

President, HANA

For background on the Arizona ADW Law, which makes taking bets on horse racing over the internet a felony read here.

Arizona Law Makes Taking Account Bets a Felony

Many representatives of the Arizona horse racing industry offered their support for HB2694 during a Feb. 15 state Committee on Water and Agriculture meeting. Among the supporters were representatives of Turf Paradise, Yavapai Downs, the Yavapai Downs County Fair Association, the Arizona Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, and the Arizona Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

With HB2694 now in effect, the ADW companies were forced to close the accounts of their Arizona customers or face felony charges.


If you are from Arizona, or know a horseplayer from Arizona who has not signed up for HANA, please let them know that they can sign up here. Let's work together to make things better for Arizona horseplayers.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Takeout Discussions on HRI - Fotias

I can think of no better example to illustrate the effect of takeout rates (commissions) than the biggest casino on the planet, the New York Stock Exchange. When I started trading stocks in the 60’s (thanks to a custodial account my parents opened for me) all trades had a fixed commission based on the price of the stock. Average daily volume at the time was around 6 million shares a day.

Everything changed on May Day 1975. Fixed commissions were banned. The old line brokerage firms, fearing competition amongst themselves and from the nascent discount brokers, were quite alarmed. The old boy network was under attack. But look what happened over the next 30 years. Sure, commissions were slashed 90% or more for both retail and institutional investors but, despite their original fears of market-driven pricing, the brokerage houses began to make more money than they ever had before. Although their “takeout rate” had been dramatically reduced, trading volume increased exponentially. Two billion or more shares a day are now traded routinely.


Cary Fotias is a HANA Advisory Board member and a long time horseplayer. He has (like many of us) for years tried to get our industry to understand that the great game of gambling on horse racing has been passed by due to inaction, the status-quo and a lack of leadership. In his most recent piece on HRI, he explores many of these issues and passionately answers questions from readers.

Many of the topics have been discussed here by your friendly neighborhood HANA bloggers, however it is nice to see another solider so eloquently (and at times not to eloquently :)) handle the questions and comments.

One example is to a poster who has commented here that if tracks lowered takeouts they would go "broke":

Todd says:
02 Jul 2009 at 12:46 pm | #

cary,

10%-12% tops huh? Basically you are cutting the takeout in half. Good for you, good for the HANA boys but what about the horsemen? Lets take the leap and say this happened. Can you say that handle will be 30 billion with this cut? Unless the industry sees some proof of this kind of double in handle to offset the cut in takeout you are pushing a rope. Racing Czar huh? The alphabet soups will never appoint a tout in this position. Sorry. Go get a job mucking some stalls for a few years, a resume builder.


Response:

Hi Todd-

Obviously, you got poor grades in Economics 101.

If the takeout levels I propose were adopted (and my other recommendations re techlogical improvements in the wagering infrastructure and seamless distribution), handle would EXPLODE. If it ONLY increased to $30 billion, I, like Captain Renault, would be “shocked, that so liitle gambling was going on”. It probably would go to $70-80 billion within 7-10 years. Think the horsemen (which you sound like) can live with that?

In short, all parties benefit greatly from such an exponential increase in handle.

This industry has NEVER been operated like a real business due to political infighting, bureaucratic
squabbling, misguided moralists, and pure ignorance when it comes to the laws of supply and demand.

I am not a tout, sir. I make a good living betting on horses and, find me one other “tout” who shows over 100% ROI (that’s return on investment, if you were wondering) on his public selections as I have on this site as a favor to executive editor, John Pricci and HRI readers such as yourself.

I am doing my best to improve our great game of thoroughbred racing. I don’t have time to muck stalls, right now. If my plan were to be enacted and failed to deliver, I’d agree to muck a few.

Cary


The full exchange and post is here and is well worth the read. We are happy to have Cary a part of HANA.

If you would like to join us and add your voice to the growing masses who are, like Cary, tired of the direction this game has been taken, please join us here. We need your help and you CAN make a difference.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Plenty of Handicapping Tools for Hollywood

PP's, Pacefigs, Thorograph and more are all now available for the Pool Party tomorrow at Hollywood. A special thanks to the Hollywood promotional team for helping us with the race.

Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hollywood Pool Party

Swimming pools, movie stars? We are not sure about that, but we do know there will be horseplayers! Keep your eye on the blog for free PP's and more for Hollywood Park's 8th race this Sunday, The American Oaks.

The "Hana Pool Party" is a concept first detailed by HANA members and long time horseplayers, Mike Mayo and Ross Gallo (explained in detail here). In a nutshell, we hope to pool a significant following of horseplayers, and horseplayer money each week, to bet into a specific pool, or track. We hope that the concept can mushroom and raise awareness of horseplayer-centric issues that can make our game a better one to play, and grow the sport of horse racing. No amount of betting is too small, we appreciate every dollar played.

Previous pool parties resulted in a doubling of some pool targets (e.g. Will Rogers and Tampa), and spiked pools at larger tracks in a significant way.

We thank all the organizations which have helped us promote the concept, with free past performances (Trackmaster), selections (Trackmaster and the Perikan Money Sheet), figures (pacefigures.com and thorograph) linking (Equidaily, Paulick, Green But Game, the TBA and many bloggers who are playing each week) and ad networks/chat boards( Hello Race Fans and Paceadvantage.com). I hope we are not forgetting anyone! We love the support and can not do it without you.

FREE HANDICAPPING INFORMATION FOR THE AMERICAN OAKS ON SUNDAY CLICK HERE

Thorograph Data for the race click here.

Thank you all, and good luck at this weeks race! To handicap the race and discuss and plan future Pool Parties, please join the Handletalks Yahoo group and have a some fun.And don't forget to join HANA here. It's free!

Horseplayer Named Director of Racing at Yavapai

HANA member and long time horseplayer Greg Boomer Wry has been named Racing Director at the Arizona track.

Boomer has been in touch with us, and we at HANA look very forward to working with him on the Arizona ADW law and other issues.

As a horseplayer, Wry brings a unique perspective while also serving as racing director. A handicapper tied closely to the racing community, he is a member of the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA), whose 1,100 members put $41 million through betting windows last year.


Our sincere best wishes to Boomer in his new gig.