Today Steve Crist tackled the California issues in an opinion article.
Regardless of whose numbers are right, customers remain angry, and officials aren’t helping things by the way they executed the increase and have defended it.
It also didn’t help that the two ranking commissioners on the California Horse Racing Board called the old rates “underpriced” and claimed that racing needs to compete with the Lakers and Dodgers, not alternative forms of gambling with lower takeouts.
No one from the tracks or the board has explained the rationale for the nature of the increases or adopted a tone of regret about the supposed necessity of them. Asked for reaction to the situation last week, Santa Anita president George Haines said a committee was being formed to locate and hire an official spokesman on the issue.
Mr. Crist also noted that some folks out there are calling for "8%-12%" as optimal takeout. While those bettors may be correct for the long-term growth of racing (some studies back up those rates), as a point of clarity, the position of Playersboycott.org was released in their press release on January 12th, 2011:
In addition to demanding an end to the takeout increase, Players Boycott also proposes a new "Gambling Board" to advise the CHRB on all gambling related matters such as new bets, takeout rates, scratch rules, etc. This board would include an economist, a track official, and a player representative. Players Boycott believes that experts should be the ones making gambling-related policy for thoroughbred racing in California.
Players Boycott also urges the CHRB and the TOC to work towards ending California's ADW Retention Cap. This cap has prevented most California players from getting rebates that are available to players outside the state.
The reasoning for this is twofold: One, rolling back the takeout increase will help handles and start to move in the right direction, and two, with gambling people who are experts in their field we expect sound decisions can be made in the future to help grow wagering. Jeff Platt elaborates on the Gambling Board vision here.
Playersboycott.org believes with that structure in place, perhaps California racing can start to tackle their problems (problems that are certainly not all takeout related) and turn the corner.