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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Further Evidence We Need Gambling People in Power

CHRB Vice-Chair David Israel:

"Vice Chairman Israel said regarding the takeout increase and the issue of price, “People often say we are competing with the casinos. I think that’s shortsighted and wrong. We’re not competing with casinos. We’re in the entertainment business. We’re competing with the Dodgers and the Giants and the Angels and the Lakers and we’re putting on a show."

Meanwhile - back in reality:

Pew Research did a survey on the popularity of "sports" and what "fans" like.

Football: 34%
Basketball: 14%
Baseball: 13%

Horse Racing (not enough responses to make a list): 0.13%

It was beaten by Rodeo/Bull Riding.

Thank god we are not competing with the Dodgers and Giants. If we were, purses would be less than a biggie sized Big Mac meal.

Until this industry finds a way to fund purses from sales of TV deals (we pay networks millions to show our races every year, not the other way around), Zenyatta T-shirts or Todd Pletcher jerseys, from 0.13% of sports watchers, we need to cultivate gambling.

Why? Because bettors pay all the bills for purses.

$2B of revenue comes from gamblers for racing. Other revenue sources are non-existent. Trying to squeeze revenue out of a place there is none, is akin to promoting a Justin Bieber concert in an old age home.

As Gibson Carothers said in his Eclipse Award considered piece, warning racing that they have to concentrate on their real market (gamblers) to grow the sport:

“It’s amazing how many advertisers confuse their real market with the market they would like to have. In all my years in advertising, I can’t recall a client [racing] who was so conflicted about its own product.”

This is alive and well in California and the CHRB, Mr. Carothers.

Note, at the same meeting, the CHRB gives us another head scratcher:

· The racing commissioners voted unanimously to “have the will of the Board conveyed to the Governor’s Office that California Horse Racing Board critical contractors (i.e. stewards, veterinarians and other contract personnel) receive compensation for services rendered from monies received from the wagering public to ensure the continuation of horse racing in California .” Chairman Brackpool explained that even though CHRB operations are funded by the industry, not the State General Fund, CHRB contractors have been ordered included in the general non-payment order for contractors during the budget impasse. CHRB Executive Director Kirk Breed was instructed to convey to the Administration the Board’s desire to pay its contractors immediately.

Comment (from Rich at Paceadvantage.com): Does this mean that the stewards, vets, etc. work for the horseplayers? If we're paying the bill for them out of our bets the we should have more say about the "who, what, where and when" of their behavior and stop being told to "sit down and shut up" when we raise issues about the same?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

There has been a good deal of dumb comments from people in charge.... but that is bar-none, the dumbest one i have ever seen.

If I said that something that bad in my company at a meeting, I would be escorted off the premises......

Anonymous said...

Wow

Scott Ferguson said...

Actually, I agree with him. I'll explain why.

Decades ago, racing used to draw huge crowds. I'm drawing from the Australian example where until licensed off-course betting was introduced, you would regularly see 30,000 people at a midweek city meeting, and 50,000 plus at a Saturday meeting. These were the days when the man ruled the household, the wife stayed at home, kids did what they were told, shops weren't open on Saturdays and there was no live sport on TV, assuming you could even afford to own one. And there was no off-course broadcast of racing, so you had to go to the course to hear or see the action. These were the glory days of racing, and the situation wouldn't have been much different in the US or the UK. Racing was a 'sport' for the middle-aged to older man. The number of women going to the track was low, and that part still rings true.

But times have changed. Now the family demands a lot more of a (married) man's time, we get dragged to shopping malls on weekends, we can sit at home and watch live sport of all sorts and shapes all day and all night on our home big-screen TV. Few men will now do anything without consulting their 'other half'. If they do want to bet it's much easier to go to Vegas, Atlantic City or a Native American casino than it used to be. People used to work fairly close to their homes, now they are stuck in traffic commuting for another 10hrs per week, which eats into the rest of their free time.

Racing is a form of entertainment. It barely fits into the sport category because for most, it's only purpose is for gambling. We don't participate in it - you can't go play horse racing with your kids in the back yard. It disappears out of the public psyche very easily.

Racing has to cash in on 'the experience'. The big days - Derby day, Ladies' Days, various Festivals etc. Get people to the tracks, get them there so that even if they don't really care about betting, they might go because of the facilities such as quality restaurants.

The consumer only has so much discretionary spend each month. They can spend that at a bar, the cinema, the golf course, taking their kids to a theme park etc.

Denying that racing isn't a form of entertainment, and competes with a far wider spectrum of rivals is being completely out of touch with the modern world.

Anonymous said...

"Denying that racing isn't a form of entertainment, and competes with a far wider spectrum of rivals is being completely out of touch with the modern world. "

No one is saying it isn't a form of entertainment..... anyone with a clue is only saying that getting money/revenue as 'entertainment' for $2B in purses and profits is not going to come, nor ever will come from it being entertainment.

We can have five or six big days, but there are 52,000 races per year in our country. For 49,500 races no one is coming there and paying $50 for a seat, or $100 for a jockey's jersey.

You get revenue where there is revenue not where you wish there was revenue.

Phil

Scott Ferguson said...

basically, the comment is taken out of context. Sure the purses come from gamblers, but unless you find ways to bring new people to the track, those gamblers will die out. The image of racing is very, very tired.

If there are 49,500 races with nobody there to watch, then why hold (most of) them? What exactly is the value in running races at some track in the middle of nowhere for pitiful purses? Poor quality all round, how about culling some of it. If you want trees in your garden to flourish and grow how you want them to, you prune them, not let them grow in all directions and get tangled up. Bad racing scares people away.

Scott Ferguson said...

One other point

"No one is saying it isn't a form of entertainment..... anyone with a clue is only saying that getting money/revenue as 'entertainment' for $2B in purses and profits is not going to come, nor ever will come from it being entertainment."

The big tracks of the world fund their entire year through a mere handful of meetings. That's why you have to capitalise on the days when you have the quality product on offer.

HANA said...

Note:

Edit added in original post, via Rich B:

· The racing commissioners voted unanimously to “have the will of the Board conveyed to the Governor’s Office that California Horse Racing Board critical contractors (i.e. stewards, veterinarians and other contract personnel) receive compensation for services rendered from monies received from the wagering public to ensure the continuation of horse racing in California .” Chairman Brackpool explained that even though CHRB operations are funded by the industry, not the State General Fund, CHRB contractors have been ordered included in the general non-payment order for contractors during the budget impasse. CHRB Executive Director Kirk Breed was instructed to convey to the Administration the Board’s desire to pay its contractors immediately. #

Comment: Does this mean that the stewards, vets, etc. work for the horseplayers? If we're paying the bill for them out of our bets the we should have more say about the "who, what, where and when" of their behavior and stop being told to "sit down and shut up" when we raise issues about the same.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Israel should open a track and offer no betting. After a year he can report back to us on how it is doing financially.

bullring said...

Gambling IS the entertainment.

Indulto said...

CHRB vice chairman Israel's first name is David. Steve Israel is a U.S. Congressman from NY.

What he, IMO, is deliberately misrepresenting is that while horseracing is indeed in the entertainment business, its audience is primarily customers who gamble for entertainment.

By placing the burden of the takeout increase on the backs of recreational bettors he will see both that audience and handle diminish as bankrolls don't last as long as they did before. We CA residents need HANA's help to stop this nonsense sooner than later.

It isn't enough for each HANA member to stop betting races in CA, they've each got to reach out to several other players they know to try and convince them to stop betting into those pools as well.

Just remember, if this takeout increase is successful, it will catch on elsewhere. Who will be there to help players outside CA if you don't help us now?

Scott Ferguson said...

there are some odd opinions on the CHRB. Just read this article about 'bringing the fun back to racing' - http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/59066/put-the-fun-back-in-racing-brackpool-urges.

Yes, great idea, but to suggest pushing takeout up will bring in $30m while the sport is in decline is just plain scary. And on the same hand, he suggests exchange betting will bring in big lumps of revenue too (because it slashes takeout to the barebones).

Does Brackpool have a business degree? I'd be surprised...