The concept of not cashing a ticket - losing it, bringing a voucher back home with a few dollars on it and various other reasons - is not uncommon to horseplayers and customers of racetracks.
Because of the monopoly racing was, whereby every group, faction, government etc could take bettors money with impunity (it was not like they had to compete) even that uncashed ticket money finds a home. And as reported by WKYT in Kentucky the home is not with the rightful owners.
Over $2.3M in uncashed tickets go unclaimed in Kentucky. Nationwide it is of course much more. The cash, if unclaimed for a prescribed period of time, goes to the backstretch workers. Surely a noble cause; however, taking the bettors money and not returning it to them in some way is surely emblematic in regards to how customers are treated in horse racing, not to mention an obvious display into the industry's foresight in customer cultivation.
Please allow me to show you how difficult it is to do something common sense in racing for us, the lifeblood of the sport. The people who fund purses:
In Canada in 2007 there was a movement to take this uncashed ticket money and place it into a jackpot bet for bettors, a lower takeout bet, giveaways to customers etc - in effect return it to its rightful owners (and ironically, help a business which seems unable to help itself when dealing with customers). I was a part of this process during a wagering conference.
At the conference itself there was almost unanimous support (when the public was watching) from the 300 people or so present, to get this done. In the crowd I saw only one hand go up when asked who was against this - it came from a representative from a horseman group. That should have clued me in; they had their fingers in the horseplayer uncashed ticket pie and were not going to give it up without a fight. Regardless, after the meeting it seemed that at the upcoming government review, uncashed ticket money would now be going back to customers in some way. I spoke to several people and expected a press release to be issued telling us how the customers money was going to be given back.
As I understand it, the meeting was held (with only the racetracks, government agency and horsemen group present), and it was not passed. The tracks and the horsemen group both voted it down, and if they vote it down the government can not make them do the right thing, they just rubber stamp it.
The good feeling at the wagering conference with industry watchers, tracks, bettors, customers and lovers of the sport agreeing that this simple, common sense thing to help racing and do the right thing, was all one big show - one big thumb in the nose of the customers.
It was not the customers money it was theirs, and they were not giving it back. And they wonder where handle has gone since 2007, when this meeting took place.
Racing is not friendly to customers, and they never have been. The question to me is: Will they ever be?
A good start would be to give uncashed ticket money back to the people who own it - the customer. But without the horseplayers having a seat at the table, with real clout, I am not holding my breath.
Dean is a HANA member from Canada. If you'd like to join HANA please click here.