Friday, February 22, 2013

Is the TOC Ready To Raise Takeout Again In California?

At yesterday's CHRB meeting in California, the Bloodhorse reported this:

" Hollywood and the Thoroughbred Owners of California have not come to an agreement extending the 14% takeout rate on the popular Pick 5 wager, either. Unless horsemen agree, the Pick 5 first instituted by Hollywood last year would only be offered at the standard 23% takeout rate on exotic wagers in California"

That's a whopping  64.2% increase in takeout. It's probably largest takeout hike ever devised.

We'll keep monitoring the situation, and look into topping up the gas tanks in the HANA plane.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Big Splash for the Florida Derby?

Our friend Michael at Balmoral Park looked into the crystal ball and came up with, what we think, is a grand idea for the Rainbow Six. Should this play out, a $20 million dollar pool on national television could certainly give racing a much needed boost.

What do you think?

 I may have a grand idea for the Rainbow Six.

 Gulfstream races three days in April, with a closing day of Friday, April 5 which just happens to be Opening Day at Keeneland. The last Sunday in March is Easter Sunday and I am fairly certain that New York will not be able to wager on Gulfstream on March 31. This has always been a concern for Gulfstream management and they have changed their mandatory payout day in the past.

Which brings us to Saturday, March 30. The schedule for the day includes...

The Florida Derby Stakes

 Lets look into the future because that is what horseplayers do. There are 27 racing days until The Florida Derby. In the event that nobody takes down the jackpot in those 27 days, we are looking at a carryover in the vicinity of $7,000,000. Amazing at this may seem, that is not the best part.

 NBC Sports starts their 2013 Road to the Derby on that day with the national telecast of The Florida Derby. If you can get thru these next 27 days without a unique ticket, and Gulfstream can make the decision to have a mandatory payout on Florida Derby Day, you are looking at a total Rainbow Six pool of $20,000,000 that you can bet for ten cents. You can bet what every horseplayer in the country will be doing that day.

 In conclusion, this is the type of event that could jump start the Road To The Kentucky Derby and the entire thoroughbred industry and create something unforgettable.

$20,000,000 pool on a ten cent bet.
National TV.
The Florida Derby.

This horse can't miss.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Notice to Illinois Residents about ADW (Account Deposit Wagering)

Illinois horseplayers are advised that The Illinois State Legislature allowed the statute authorizing ADW (Account Deposit Wagering) to sunset on 12-31-2012. You are also advised that the Legislature has failed to act, and to date, has not created new legislation that would reestablish ADW wagering for Illinois residents.

We at HANA believe the time has come for Illinois horseplayers to get involved. We urge you to contact your elected representatives and tell them your position on ADW wagering.

Here is a link to a .PDF that contains a list of House Members of the Illinois General Assembly:

Here is a link to a .PDF that contains a list of Illinois State Senators:

Here is a link to a .PDF that contains a sample letter voicing support for new legislation to reestablish ADW wagering for Illinois residents:

HANA Recommends Illinois Horseplayers Take the Following Action:
PRINT out the sample letter out and sign it (or craft a letter of your own.) Make sure your letter includes your printed name and address. Put your signed letter in an envelope. Be sure to print your return address clearly on the envelope. Put a postage stamp on the envelope and MAIL it to the offices of your State Senators and Assemblymen.

Also: CALL the offices of your elected officials and TELL the Staff Consultants working there your position on ADW wagering.

Then: TELL OTHERS. Send the following link out to other registered Illinois voters:

I have been told by Staff Consultants who work for State Senators and Assemblymen that registered voters doing it the old fashioned way – mailed in letters – and telephone calls – are much harder for elected officials to ignore than emails.

I urge you to take five minutes out of your day. Write a letter and mail it in. Then call. And tell others.

Make a difference.

Jeff Platt
President, HANA

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Is Online Horse Racing A Blown Opportunity?

This Valentine's Day I shopped online, like I'm sure many of you have. I was unsure what I was looking for, but after some research I found something I liked. I went to a website after typing in my search phrase in Google and the page I landed on was nothing that I was looking for. I went to another, and another. Finally, I landed on a page that had what I was looking for, at a fair price. This retailer made the process fast and easy. They got my sale.

In this fast-paced world, delivering exactly what someone is searching for drives your business. Research shows that the first ten seconds of a web visit is critical. If you put roadblocks in front of a user, try and hoodwink them, or make them go to a page depth of three or four, or five or six on your site to find what they're looking for, you might as well put a dagger through your online business. 

Scanning google trends I think this may be apparent for horse racing. This is a search index for "online horse betting"

Searchers may be more sophisticated now and don't use that term any longer, but if you scan subsets with horse racing, betting, wagering and online, the results are similar. It appears racing has a problem converting this term into a paying customer, and the customers are frustrated. Adding credibility to this, is that the lowest standardized search index for these terms are in states like Alaska and Wisconsin. Those places do not allow internet wagering.

Just like seeing an ad on TV for a Valentine's gift idea and looking for it on your iPad, if someone is watching the Kentucky Derby and wants to make a bet on the race or get more information online, quick and easy, they search for online horse betting, or online horse racing. They land on a page that is not very user friendly. It has residency requirements due to state and horsemen "home area" deals. It has roadblock after roadblock for a willing buyer. I get the sweats just thinking about it.

Fifteen or twenty years ago online businesses were finding ways to improve usability, ease of purchase, shipping issues and all the rest to ensure a smooth buying funnel. Most businesses online are still working at it today. It seems horse racing has not worked on this as much as they should have been. Perhaps that's why we're seeing frustrated potential customers not searching for horse racing betting online much anymore at all. It's not that they don't want to bet horse racing online, land on an site with video and all the rest, or be a horse racing customer, it's just that they aren't shown an easy way to be a horse racing customer.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chasing the Pick 6 Madness

Gulfstream Park has a 1.5 million dollar carryover in its Rainbow Six today, and a $60,000 carry in its Pick 5 as well. To say that Gulfstream's handle will be large today may be an understatement.

The Rainbow Pick Six has caused much discussion in the horseplayer community. 

On the negative side:
  •  As Andy Beyer wrote, the takeout is off the charts. For true blue horseplayers, this is a bad takeout bet.
  • It eliminates churn. That's probably true, too. Bets like this suck bankrolls, through high takeout and locking up money. That's not a good thing. A $196 pick 6 is $196 that can't be bet in low takeout win pools, or doubles. 
On the positive side:
  •  Jackpot bets create buzz and bring in a new demographic. There is a little old lady playing dime slots in the slots parlor right now trying to win a $224 jackpot. She can come over to the track side, bet a $24 ticket and have a shot at two million.
  • The favorite lonshot bias is alive and well in the Rainbow Six. With people buying tickets with so many bombs, the favorites are underbet. If you take a logical ticket, keying some hard to beat chalk, you can walk away with a decent bet - below the 52% rake, that's for sure. It's a skill and an art. 
The one thing I find positive about the Rainbow Six, is that it's fun. There is nothing wrong with trying to have a little bit of fun at the racetrack is there? If you were alive yesterday after the first three or four legs, the excitement you felt is something that you never forget.

As the aforementioned Andy Beyer once said,  

"The capacity to enjoy: so few people have it. A gambler may have as many periods of frustration as he does exhilaration, but at least he knows he's alive."

The Rainbow Six certainly does that.

What do you think about it? Should it be discontinued, or do we see merit in it for horse racing?