Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Arlington Park Makes Changes for 2011 – Lower Takeout on the Menu

Today Arlington Park made some player-friendly changes to the betting menu for 2011. We had a conversation with Ken Kiehn, Arlington’s VP of Sales Marketing and Guest Services about them, and more.

Lower takeout and a new wager to hopefully attract casual on-track players are two of the things that Arlington is trying this year. 

The pick 5 and Super High Five have both been reduced to 15% takeout, with the hopes of attracting horseplayer dollars via the simulcast market. 

“We held several focus groups with customers and asked if they would like a couple of lower takeout bets, which they did, so we responded” said Ken Kiehn.

Arlington is the second Churchill Downs controlled track to offer bettors a lower takeout, as Calder recently has initiated a 12% pick 5. 

“There are a couple of ways to hopefully raise revenue, take a higher percentage of a slightly lower handle or try and increase handle and take a lower percentage. We feel that looking at all facets of our product to grow handle is paramount.”  Kiehn said.

Newer fans have not been left out this meet with the interesting new “Last Call Wager”. This wager will be offered on the second last race of the day, sold on-track by dedicated ticket sellers with wireless equipment. The bet is a win place show wager of $2, $4 and $6. The hope is the new player will cash at least a show bet and make a few dollars. However, to add to the experience, if the customer loses his/her "last call" bet, the ticket can be exchange for a free beer, soda or other refreshment. 

“This is something we thought we’d try. A lot of fans leave after the sixth or seventh so maybe it can attract them to stay longer and have a better time.”

For serious horseplayers, Arlington hopes that field size will be better this meet and they are cautiously optimistic.  As most Arlington players know, the presence of Frank Calabrese horses at low odds was something that tended to be a complaint on various chat boards last season. The leading owners charges were formidable, and low odds winners permeated the landcape last season. This season Mr. Calabrese does not have any Arlington stalls, but the horse population seems to be sound.

“Stall applications seem strong so we hope we can offer a more attractive product in terms of field size this meet. The early part of the meet we anticipate being better than in years past, but time will tell”

Lower takeout, a hopeful bump in field size, lower denominations for wagers and a newbie bet - add Arlington Park to the list of 2011 tracks that seem to be asking for your business.
For more on the betting menu and 2011 changes, please visit here.


Tinky said...

“We held several focus groups with customers and asked if they would like a couple of lower takeout bets, which they did, so we responded” said Ken Kiehn.

It was necessary to hold "several focus groups" in order to ascertain the answer to that question? Really? Did they also ask the equally vexing question of whether or not the participants would prefer to remain healthy, as opposed to getting sick?

HANA said...

Hello Tinky,

Just a point for clarification - we're horseplayers here, not journalists or professional interviewers.

The had focus groups to ask many questions of their bettors, one of which involved takeout changes. Arlington's bigger players told the track that they would support those two pools if takeouts were reduced, so they are trying it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laugh Tinky.

I applaud AP for lowering the takeout.
When I went to my local Track Sat there was great buzz about Gulf.10c.pk6.
Think about It,If every track had that kind of buzz on closing day.

I think every track should implement the 10c.pk6 except maybe cal.

Anonymous said...

If the desperately needed newcomers to racing are given encouragement only in the area of exotic wagering -- where winning tickets are the most difficult to come by, the the new players will soon be discouraged by the infrequent visits to the cashiers.

The WPS pools are where the relief is needed. And ,unless racing wants to be thought of as just a lottery where there are big payoffs but only occasional
wins, the new bettors will mostly decide this game is not for them.

To get into horseracing, there has to be an emphasis on handicapping ( really, wssn't that how most oldtimers got started ) and the further away we from the lottery mentality the better off we will be.

Anonymous said...

Do you guys know what the takeout is on Churchill's new pick 5 wager?


HANA said...

I believe it is 19% like all exotics. I have to double check tho!


Precocity said...

I'm feeling a bit conflicted and confused with respect to HANA's focus on take-out reductions.

First of all, is the boycott of CA racing still on? It seems contradictory to support Hollywood Park's new 15% pick-5 while telling bettors to boycott them.

Next, it appears HANA has achieved some success in getting tracks to implement take-out reductions. However, many of these appear to be token reductions, which have little relevance to ordinary bettors. Unfortunately, many handicappers simply can't afford to play pick 5's. Furthermore, as a previous poster pointed out, it's almost impossible to hit these wagers (unless you have a substantial bankroll). The best take-out reductions are ones that apply to WPS and two-horse (i.e. doubles/exactas) interest exotics. To make horse-racing palatable to a new generation of players, we need competitive pricing on core wagers.

HANA said...

Thank you for that comment.

The boycott is still in force for CA racing. Most of the players have told us they will not be playing, but some are playing the lower takeout pick 5. It is a personal decision.

As for the lower takeout bets in serials etc, we agree with you (although a 50 cent pick 5 is a good value bet, even for smaller players). The problem with this is that some tracks have a hard time getting full takeout reductions passed by horsemen groups. Often times one bet is allowed for lower takeout. With the success of the pick 5 at Monmouth (15%) others have followed. We hope, if these bets continue to get played, horsemen groups like the TOC will realize the game can get better with lower takeout in all pools.

For lower WPS takeout please see Hastings. They lowered takeout across all pools this season.