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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

2010 HANA Track Ratings: #3 Tampa Bay Downs

Please have a look at our feature story on Tampa Bay Downs on the Paulick Report here.

An interesting note on Tampa, as relayed in the article is the large handle growth they have had since the year 2000. During that time they have lowered takeout and been fairly horseplayer friendly on a number of issues.

In addition we have been asked several questions about the weighting system. We have linked our metrics on all articles, and at the right of the page here, however for a point of clarification: The metrics and weighting are based on factors which drive handle, via horseplayer satisfaction. Here is a short explanation that we have relayed to this question:

The HANA ratings are not what people think via a vote, or otherwise, rather how tracks score via available metrics on items that have horseplayer value and drive handle.

The complete list of metrics and weights are linked on the article. The weights were assigned based on elasticity of demand factors as follows.

1. Takeout (highest weight, elasticity = -2.3). Handle grows inversely proportional to takeout. We know anecdotally this is true, but we also know from study and empirically. In the last published study a reduction of takeout results in the highest increase of handle (elasticity of demand=-2.3). So tracks that have a lower takeout compared to one another is the largest factor, because the tracks with lower takeout are better for the player, increase the bet, and help grow customer satisfaction, which should help racing.

2. Field size is next. It has an elasticity of -.60. A field size which has one more horse per race grows handle by about 5%, allows bettors to bet more money, receive more value and is better for the game.

3. Wager variety is weighted next. We do not have a hard study on this, however players do want options, because there are a lot of sharks swimming in the pools. giving players options tends to up the bet empiricially. The e here is probably between -0.2 and -0.6.

4. Handle was in response to horseplayer feedback last year, like from horseplayer Nick Kling (who wrote a good article about this on his site) who asked for a field quality component. Small pools cause some problems. A track could have 10% takeout, but be a tough place to play, if for example a pick 3 pool has $400. If you hit three ten to one shots you are getting paid nowhere near fair odds and it acts like a takeout increase. This also addresses purse size, without giving points to slot tracks. The e on field quality is a low -0.06 as a stand-alone figure, but it is probably a bit higher when wagering is considered. this was weighted 4th.

5. Last was signal distribution. This is a new item, and it is hard to measure, however it could be one of the most important items in racing today in terms of its future from a player perspective and otherwise. When the signal was messed up at FG this year, handle was off 20+%. When the signal fee is high it squeezes wagering dollars out of peoples pockets as a takeout hike. We have received feedback that this should be weighted higher next year, so we will do some digging and try to find a more applicible weighting level based on that study.

Bill - a retired engineer from Houston Texas - crunches all those items, compares them track to track and the ratings are calculated.

We have no idea who will rank where until Bill hits the button. He then reports the figures, we report them to you via places like the Paulick Report, and after the exercise all data is posted on our website so players can have a look.

If you would like to know more about the weighting schemes, or to read references on studies by Thalheimer, Cummings et al, that helped weight the system please visit the HANA website.


HANA's was formed to give horseplayers a voice. Now is your chance to have your voice heard and read by racing. What do you like as a player at Tampa, what do you dislike? How can they do better, in your opinion? Please let them know at the Paulick Report.

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