At yesterday's CHRB meeting the board voted to continue the takeout hike at Los Alamitos, despite the hard numbers of handle being off 27% since the hike. HANA board member Jeff Platt and Barry Meadow both testified that clearly handle being off 27% is a sure sign that this is not the answer. However, they were summarily dismissed.
Are horseplayers listened to at all in California? Does lost handle and lost customers even register with the CHRB? Is lost handle and lost customers considered a good business practice in California?
Here is a summary from Mr. Platt:
Item #15 Review of Los Al takeout increase:
Not that all of the Commissioners voting today actually read the entire meeting package that dealt with the Los Al increased takeout experiment before voting at today's meeting... Hint: They didn't and one of the Commissioners admitted as much right before the motion was called to a vote...
Not that everyone who filled out a card to speak on this agenda item was actually given the chance to speak before a decision was reached... Hint: The Chairman made his motion to continue the takeout increase and it was seconded before Barry Meadow was given his chance to speak... That little factoid should appear as part of the meeting transcript too...
But by including the spreadsheet that I prepared as part of the meeting package, the CHRB at least acknowledged the fact that on track handle for Los Al since the start of the experiment was off 27% on a 2010 vs. 2009 per calendar basis.
Handle off significantly during the time period of the experiment was not enough to sway them. They voted unanimously today to continue the increased takeout experiment until it is scheduled to automatically sunset on or about Sept 8, 2010.
I can tell you from talking with some of the industry participants present at today's meeting that handle off significantly doesn't matter. There is an element among the horsemen where takeout increases are seen as somehow having the potential to pay for purse increases... which are now "needed" because for some strange reason handle keeps going down.
But I have to call it like I see it. On track handle off 27% is a pretty clear sign (at least to me) that increased takeout isn't the answer. Apparently, racing's decision makers in CA don't see it that way. I don't know what the breaking point is... 30%... 45%... 60%???... It appears for the time being that 27% just isn't a clear enough sign.
Jeff Platt, President HANA
Note: Here are some comments about this from horseplayers - the folks who pay purses through handle. One or two of them significant California bettors and horse owners.
California tracks have seen my last dollar until significant changes are made. Thanks to rw, JP, and BM for their efforts. If three people with their abilities coudn't make an impact on the board, nobody should be wasting their time and money trying.
I officially gave up a month ago. I'm done.
Brackpool blew it on this one and ought to get the hell out if he's going to treat Horseplayers/the people of California this way. If you can't stand the heat Mr. Brackpool then take a hike and hand the CHRB over to Stronach.
What a group here in California. Disgrace after disgrace. And the hits keep coming.
They should raise the prices to 80% takeout. Handle will go down 75% and it will be more of a "success". 75% is higher than 27%, after all, and they seem to think less handle is a good thing in California.
Watch out Hollywood, Santa Anita and Del Mar players - you're next.
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