If you walk into a store to buy a loaf of bread, and notice that the bread is stale and overpriced, you put it down and you walk out of the store.
Thousands of racing customers have been doing just that for the better part of a decade now. If you take all sources handle as it existed in 2003 and adjust it for inflation, and you compare it to all sources handle today in 2010, you will discover that all sources handle today in 2010 is approximately one half of what it was just seven years ago in 2003.
Consider the real life case where instead of walking out of the store, a group of conscientious racing customers took the time to contact the owners of the store and explain to them in a reasonable and intelligent manner why thousands of racing customers have been buying their bread somewhere else.
Instead of listening to the customer group’s suggestions, the owners of the store decided to implement a takeout increase at one of their stores: Los Alamitos.
Oddly enough, this same group of racing customers presented data to the CHRB clearly showing that year over year on track handle at Los Alamitos was down more than 27 percent during the six month period immediately following that takeout increase.
Instead of rescinding the takeout increase (as had been promised at the time it was implemented if it caused handle to drop) the CHRB voted unanimously to keep it in force – effectively telling racing customers everywhere what they could do with their ideas about fresh bread at competitive prices.
Shortly afterwards, the owners of the store lobbied the California Legislature to amend an innocuous bill originally written to promote the Breeder’s Cup. They were able to convince John A. Perez (D) to tack on provisions mandating a takeout increase of up to 15% over previous levels for exotic wagers at California's thoroughbred tracks. Takeout on exactas and daily doubles was raised to 22.68%. Takeout on all other exotic wagers was raised to 23.68%.
The above events actually took place during 2010.
Who are the owners of the store?
Hollywood Park, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields, Los Alamitos, the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC), and the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB).
Who is the customer group?
The state law?
At the September, 2010 CHRB meeting, when it was announced that Senate Bill 1072 had been signed into law by the Governor: The owners of the store stood up and cheered.
At some point, as a consumer, you have to consider the possibility that the owners of the store no longer deserve your business.
That’s exactly where horseplayers are at right now given the recent actions of the store owners in California.
You do not raise prices in the face of economic downturn. You lower them.
The store owners in other states are watching. It’s time for players everywhere to send a clear message back to the store owners. It’s time for players to start speaking with their wallets.
To me, the fact that other states still have takeout even higher than California’s new 23.68 percent takeout on trifectas is irrelevant. California is where the store owners decided to raise takeout over the objections of the players. California is where the CHRB ignored the facts related to the Los Al takeout increase. California is where the track owners, the TOC, and the head of the CHRB lobbied the Legislature for a takeout increase. California is where the Legislature ignored the voice of the player and passed that takeout increase. California is where the Governor ignored the voice of the player and signed Senate Bill 1072 into law. California is where the owners of the store made comments like the following after they enacted the takeout increase:
CHRB Commissioner David Israel:
“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..."
CHRB Commissioner Keith Brackpool:
"We offer in California the premier racing product on a year-round basis,” he said, “but we were offering our first-class product at a discount price. We’re changing the pricing model. We left win-place-show where it is. But we came up with a solution that will produce $30 million more a year. That’s a 25-to-30% increase in overnight purses."
I hate to use the word boycott, but in my opinion the owners of the store in California clearly no longer deserve even one penny of my business.
I have to put the question out there to other players:
Has the time come for an organized national players’ boycott of California racing?