Wednesday, April 30, 2014
HANA Poll Result: The Tracks You Said Respected You Most (and Least)
In addition to that question we asked several ones in the survey and one of them asked you to rank racetracks in terms of customer friendliness.
The results by ranking, all respondents:
Because most HANA members lie in the average volume of betting range between $2,000 per annum and $100,000 per annum, we thought we'd look at the fringes in the survey. Those who bet $100,000 or more a year, versus those who bet under $2,000 or described themselves as "fans" who don't bet anything at the track per year.
This is overall first place votes from all respondents, subset to the two above categories.
Also unsurprising due to the headlines the past week and the poll commisisoning, Churchill ranked first in last place votes with over 60%. No other track scored last with more than 5% of the vote.
We'll have more from this survey next week.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Press Release: 9 of 10 Horseplayers Association of North America Members Polled Show Support for a Boycott of Churchill Downs Inc. Tracks & Assorted Properties; Action Commences
Friday, April 25, 2014
A Player Speaks
Even though Twin Spires has some of the worst player rewards in the industry, I have been a loyal customer since they bought out YouBet in late 2010. I always loved their software, programming, hand histories, and lightning fast cashier. However, all of that came to a screeching halt when I read about their cynical scheme to bilk their already overburdened customers.
A couple of days ago I wrote the following letter to Twin Spires through their customer support client. Surprisingly, one of their customer support agents responded with a promise to put me in touch with a manager. Not surprisingly, management has opted to remain silent.
Here is my letter: "Why are you raising your takeout on Churchill Downs? Do you think your customers have been 'getting a free ride' and should be paying more for the privilege to place a wager? The takeouts are excessive and not competitive with any other form of wagering. One of the reasons I played at Churchill was the reasonable takeout (at least in terms of industry average). Now I feel like you do not respect my business."
It continues. The full post is here.
Press Release: Playersboycott.org Discusses Their Player Action
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (April 25, 2014, San Diego, CA)
Playersboycott.org has announced that a horseplayer boycott of Churchill Downs is underway, citing an increase in takeout coupled with a massive jump in compensation for Key Executives at CHDN as reasons for the boycott.
"Key Executives at CHDN decided to hit horseplayers with a takeout increase," Playersboycott.org spokesman Jeff Platt said. "They suggested to the press an extra $8 million could be raised for purses if they multiply last year's handle numbers by this year's higher takeout rates. But it never works out that way. Takeout and handle share an elastic relationship. Horseplayers are price sensitive. Higher takeout translates to lower handle and lower purses."
Platt cited takeout increases in California as an example. "For the first six months immediately following the takeout increase at Los Alamitos in 2009, their on track handle was down 27 percent. Horseplayers boycotted Santa Anita and Golden Gate in the early months of 2011 as a result of takeout increases there. Handle dropped significantly enough that track management and horsemen invited us to the table to talk about ways to stop the bleeding. As a result of those talks Hollywood Park put in a 14% takeout pick5 and Del Mar began adding $50k in seed money to their pick six pools on non carryover Sundays. Beginning this Saturday, April 26 Santa Anita will be offering rolling doubles at 18%. None of this would have happened if higher takeout was the answer."
"But that's not the worst part," Platt said. "According to Morningstar, compensation for Key Executives at CHDN jumped from $8.20 million in 2012 to $27.92 million in 2013. On the one hand CHDN is suggesting to the press the only way to raise $8 million for purses is to hit horseplayers with a takeout increase. While on the other hand, the same executives who decided on higher takeout saw their total compensation jump by more than double the amount they hope to take from horseplayers. In my opinion that's egregious."
Beginning Saturday, April 26 : Takeout for WPS wagers at Churchill Downs will be 17.50%. (An increase of 9.375% vs. last year's takeout rate of 16.00%.) Takeout for all EXOTIC wagers at Churchill Downs will be 22.00%.
(An increase of 15.79% vs. last year's takeout rate of 19.00%.)
• Playersboycott.org is asking horseplayers to consider the idea that horseplayers are consumers and that every handle dollar bet not just at Churchill Downs, but at CHDN owned tracks Arlington Park, Calder, and Fairgrounds, along with every handle dollar bet through CHDN owned ADW Twinspires.com, and every dollar spent downloading data and reports from CHDN owned data provider Brisnet.com is a vote for higher takeout everywhere.
• Playersboycott.org also wants horseplayers to know there will be plenty of tracks running this summer whose wagering menus offer better value than Churchill and that players have other options when it comes to choice of ADWs and data providers.
Daily Racing Form: "Spring is in the Air"
In a DRF Churchill preview, which was about the track opening, the article did not mention the raise in prices on customers.
....... but the comments section sure reminded Churchill Downs what's on people's minds:
"While DRF reported on the increased takeout rates on April 11, given that DRF is intended for horseplayers there is really no excuse for Mr. McGee not to have even mentioned the increases in this article. That is the "change in the air" of most importance to many DRF readers."
"The new spelling of GREED in American Racing: CDI. Mr. McGee, the BIGGEST change at Churchill this year is the increased takeouts to the maximums allowed by law and you did NOT think that was important enough to mention in this article. "
" I plan on spending zero dollars at churchill. Well, I lie....I'm going to put the biggest show bet on wise dan and have churchill enjoy a negative takeout pool "
"Nice fluff, Marty - meanwhile, Fair Grounds is crumbling away with a turf course that doesn't drain, a video board that doesn't work, broken doors, a prehistoric grandstand and price gouging on big days"
More at link
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Beyer Talks Takeout
"Whenever U.S. racetrack executives get together at industry conclaves, they talk endlessly about the need to broaden the sport's popularity and attract new fans. But perhaps their real problem is that their horseplayers don't bet enough. If crowds at American tracks wagered more than $400 per capita, as they do in Japan, instead of $162 per capita, the sport could boom without a single new customer.
...gamblers are reasonably rational about the economic decisions they make, and they know that horse racing is usually a bad gamble. Tracks typically take from 17 to 25 percent of every dollar wagered, and those in Pennsylvania have blazed new trails by grabbing an exorbitant 30 percent from trifecta wagers.
Even for the most astute professionals it is tough to beat such odds.
So it is no wonder that big gamblers in America prefer to call their bookie and bet on a sports event, where there is only a 4.5 percent disadvantage against them. If horse racing is ever going to attract big players, it will have to reduce takeout to more reasonable levels."
That article was written in 1991.
You are absolutely correct customers; they never learn.
If you'd like to inform yourself about a grassroots boycott of Churchill Downs Inc and there associated racetracks and properties, it's here.
The Temperature Gets Turned Up on Churchill Downs Inc.
Horseplayer Andy Asaro in HRI today:
"The boycott isn't only about the egregious takeout increase. This is about an industry that refuses to listen intently to what their customers are saying. It happens time and again.
This is about an industry that's still stuck in the 1980s when it comes to eliminating breakage, or timing races more meaningfully and upgrading coding of the tote system so that the information you see is what you get in real time and not after a race has begun.
Horse Racing 2014 style is still being played on eight-track cassettes, as if there were no such thing as the digital age. Haven’t you had enough?
There will be no official leader of this grassroots action. It will be led by the collective “we,’ all of us. The boycott will consist of fans, bettors and other practitioners of the sport.
It’s up to each individual conscience, and every outlet, to do their utmost to spread the word. If we allow this moment in time pass without a strong response, we deserve the industry we get."
Customers, not Joe Drape, or an activist group are involved this year. Just customers.
If this was all there was the heat might not be turned up too hot - maybe just a pleasant sweat. However, it's not.
In an HRI column:
"Churchill Downs is a treasure. However, its parent company, Churchill Downs Inc., has done more to undermine the sport than any PETA video could ever do.
And more here.
It's not even Derby week yet where we see these headlines (and you know they're coming from other places), but from almost everyone we read, or listen to, Derby week has arrived early this year.
Industry analyst Dan Needham: "This is the most awkward and uncomfortable run-up to the Kentucky Derby that I have ever experienced."
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Young Bettors Making Their Voices Heard
I'm going to keep this short.
Churchill Downs is raising takeout rates. 17.5% WPS, and 22% for exotics. Just like every other takeout increase, they claim it's because they need to sustain purses, and just like every other takeout increase it won't work because bettors will bet less. It's simple math. It's terrible business.
I am not a big money gambler. In 2014 I have bet $624 in total. I don't make a difference to Churchill Downs. But I do make a difference to myself. If I bet into a high takeout pool, I hurt myself because my potential winnings decrease. Because of the increase, I won't bet on Churchill's races, or on any races at any of their other tracks. Why would I as a bettor play a track where I will not win as much money?
Not only will I refuse to bet any Churchill races (including the Kentucky Derby), I will tell other horseplayers about the increase. Many players don't know much about takeout. I will explain to them what Churchill is doing, and why it's bad for them as horseplayers. If they decide they want to support bettors, the people who fund racing, they will follow me in boycotting CDI. If they enjoy Churchill's racing and want to continue playing it, that's fine. It's their choice. The least I can do is tell inform them of the takeout increase.
As horseplayers who want to succeed, and also want the sport to succeed, it's important to let any track that wants to raise prices on us know that we will not meekly accept a takeout increase that will do nothing but hurt horse racing in the long run. Bye bye, CDI. Thank you for hurting the sport we love.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Horseplayers Share Their Thoughts on Churchill In Unique Ways
He has a five year old child, and it dawned on him that a children's classic could be modified for adults who play the races too.
Enjoy Lenny's Green Egg's and Ham, with a Churchill Downs takeout hike twist.
You can follow Lenny on twitter @equinometry
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Remember Horseplayers. No Vandalism!
Good luck today everyone. Enjoy the races.
Who scribbled this on the new @Churchilldowns $12 million video board? pic.twitter.com/pNQQPFpCcv— Michael Dempsey (@turfnsport) April 19, 2014
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Horseplayer Mike Maloney: 'Horsemen Groups Bought Churchill's Pick-Up Line"
Here's what he had to say:
"The increase is certainly frustrating for me personally as I've always tried to bet as much as possible at Churchill because my net cost of a wager was reasonable. Now the percentages tell me I have to slash my handle there.
The takeout hike also frustrates me from an industry standpoint because I think in the long term everyone involved makes less not more. Any reasonable observer knows moves like this mean fewer players betting less money in the long run and what industry can prosper by discouraging and/or eliminating it's core customers? It's a shortsighted money grab by CDI and shows a total lack of understanding of the elasticity of betting handle by the horsemen groups who were sold this idea as a long term solution. You would think by now the horsemen groups would do more due diligence before buying Churchill's pick-up line.
Now we must hope that in the long term best interest of Kentucky racing the Ky Racing Commission will adjust the regulation to require Keeneland and Churchill to operate under the previous takeout limits. And given the strong influence that Churchill routinely exhibits over the racing commission which is charged with regulating them, I am not optimistic.
Meanwhile, in the world where the laws of economics still matter, the horseplayer's highest rated track Keeneland, immediately announces no increase to their takeout rates and small but growing Kentucky Downs continues to lower takeout far below the max rates available."
We'll try to share more gambling economics, player reaction and otherwise here on the blog this week and next.
Monday, April 14, 2014
The View From Vegas on Churchill Downs - "Stupid, stupid, stupid"
Tonight we stumbled upon what we might call an outside view while surfing on twitter. We saw a gentleman with over 10,000 followers speaking about horse racing, and we were surprised, because we've never seen him before.
Chris Andrews, from his bio, booked his first bet as a fifth grader. Through high school Andrews and his cohorts continued booking bets and operating card games. Andrews paid his own way through college, hustling bets and making book to fund his education. After graduating cum laude from Robert Morris College, Andrews came west to Las Vegas. The next two years were spent at two of Las Vegas’ legendary sportsbooks, the Stardust and Barbary Coast, where he learned the old Nevada method of being a bookmaker. He took the knowledge from that experience and at twenty five was hired by Club Cal Neva. He turned the tiny Reno sportsbook into one of the biggest and most successful sportsbook in Nevada.
Chris, and his "cohorts" are exactly the people racing tries to reach. There's gold in them hills, because these are the players with a bankroll who like betting - racing included.
Chris's view of Churchill's decision to raise the juice is not unlike many horse racing gamblers, but it is a different view.
"One reason circulated by those who think they know but don’t, is young bettors don’t have the patience to read all the data in the racing form.
That’s a complete load of crap.
Young sports fans, whether they are bettors or merely fans, have taken analytics to a level unimagined a generation ago. It started with baseball, and then evolved to football and basketball. Now even hockey has metrics that were unheard of a few seasons ago. Unfortunately, the first thing these potential horse bettors analyze is the percentage they have to overcome to be profitable.
To win at football, basketball or hockey, it’s about 4.5%. Baseball is about half that. When they see horse racing’s house edge is north of 17.5% it’s an easy and logical decision they make to concentrate on other wagering options.
They probably have heard the horseplayers’ prayer. You know, it goes “Dear Lord, please let me break even today. I could use the money.”
"Churchill Downs Incorporated announced they were increasing their pari-mutuel takeout from 16% to 17.5% on win, place and show bets, and from 19% to 22% on exotics.
Stupid, stupid, stupid."
Horse racing wants to attract sports gamblers and others who enjoy the pursuit of catching a winner and making a little bit of money. If Chris's article is indicative of those people, Churchill Downs is not helping the cause.
To read Chris's article in full, at againstthenumber.com, it's right here.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Horseplayers Association of North America’s Annual Track Rankings: Updated 2014 Data Released, Churchill Downs Plummets
(Charlottesville, VA, April 12th, 2014): The Horseplayers Association of North America has re-released their 2014 Track Ratings.
“Although we normally release the ratings only once in April, and then update new numbers on our master sheet on our website as we crowdsource, we felt it very important to update the final ratings this year," said HANA President Jeff Platt. "The recent increase in Churchill takeouts – win takeout up from 16% to 17.5% and exotic takeout up from 19% to 22%, as reported in the Courier Journal – needed to be reflected as a service to horseplayers.”
Churchill Downs, which originally ranked 5th, fell to 22nd in the 2014 ratings. Other Kentucky racetracks like Keeneland (1st), Kentucky Downs (2nd) and Turfway Park (9th) all cracked the new top ten.
The HANA Racetrack Ratings are based on an algorithm using factors which are indicative of horseplayer betting value, gleaned from both empirical and academic study. Key factors including takeout rate, field size, wager variety, pool size, and signal distribution are compared track to track, weighted, and a final composite score is given. Horseplayer and Industry Analyst Mike Dorr, a graduate of Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management supervised this years algorithm.
For full Ratings coverage including statistics, analysis, interviews, and a list of all tracks please visit, “Horseplayer Monthly” here: http://www.horseplayersassociation.org/hanamonthly.html
The master sheet has also been updated and it's available here. http://www.horseplayersassociation.org/hanatrackratingsbyoverallscore2014.html
The Horseplayers Association of North America is a grassroots group of horseplayers who are not affiliated with any industry organization. HANA hopes, through proactive change on several key issues (including but not limited to), open signal access, lower effective takeouts, affordable data and customer appreciation, the industry’s handle losses can be reversed. HANA is made up of over 2,500 horseplayers.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Some Reaction To Churchill Downs Takeout Increase
Twitter world blowing up about the Churchill Downs increase in takeout. Just search Churchill Downs and you will see the response.— Scott Raymond (@onehorsestable) April 10, 2014
The twitter timeline of @ChurchillDowns has officially spontaneously combusted. Is this what they mean by #viral ?— Jason Perry (@jmanmetsfan1) April 11, 2014
Horseplayers may disagree about surfaces & the PETA video, but they close ranks when nitwit racetracks raise takeout.— Nick Kling (@docfonda) April 10, 2014
Some preliminary math tells me it's possible that the Churchill Sept meet allowed avg on-track handle to drop enough to raise takeout— Mike Dorr (@mikedorr77) April 11, 2014
It's also why @DerbyMedia released fall meet numbers publicly when they had not done so in the past. KY law was meant to be gamed.— Mike Dorr (@mikedorr77) April 11, 2014
William Carstanjen, president and COO of Churchill Downs was paid $9,872,214 in compensation for 2013. pic.twitter.com/Yt83M9pbyA— jack white (@boycottracefive) April 10, 2014
It's official: @ChurchillDowns raises takeout. In this environment, bad move IMO. But what else is new in this industry?— Art Wilson (@Sham73) April 10, 2014
If CDI wants to divest itself of racing, a 1 1/4 mile race on Keeneland dirt could aptly be named the Kentucky Derby.— Dan Needham (@thorotrends) April 11, 2014
Flashback: Churchill daily average handle down 28 percent from 2012 fall meet http://t.co/NUwjZSVNx1 via @DRFInsidePost solution? raise take— Al Gobbi (@polarcritter) April 10, 2014
We think its time for cos. who are more worried about casino revenue to leave the racetracks to those who want to run them & grow the sport.— HANA (@HplayersAssnNA) April 10, 2014
Churchill raising takeouts, following a business model that has failed over and over. #playerboycott— seth rosenfeld (@sethlrose) April 10, 2014
As a reminder, in CA the hike brought a 5% reduction in purses to 130M. The legislature said purses would be "over $200M."— Pullthepocket (@Pullthepocket) April 10, 2014
@KeeneGal @TimeformUSfigs Not that my few thousand I bet on Derby Day will matter, but I'm not betting it. I'll play contests instead.— Charlie Davis (@Charli125) April 10, 2014
Just closed my @TwinSpires account. For horse racing to thrive, takeout needs to be lowered, not raised.— Pete Denk (@petedenk) April 10, 2014
Churchill Downs Inc Executive compensation $27,920,907 in 2013. And they're coming after you. http://t.co/675XjGSf0X— HANA (@HplayersAssnNA) April 10, 2014
It's all about how much cash Churchill Downs Inc. can rake in on Derby day. Everyday horseplayers be damned.— Brian Zipse (@Zipseatthetrack) April 10, 2014
In CJ, @keeneland says no to a takeout increase (attached) Proud to be a top rated track. http://t.co/i60N6xYdmj pic.twitter.com/aTqNhrJxwR— HANA (@HplayersAssnNA) April 11, 2014
Read the HANA Horseplayer Monthly and look at the difference between Corey Johnsen/Kentucky Downs' attitude & CDI's. Same state, night & day— Greg Reinhart (@GregReinhart) April 10, 2014
Churchill also was responsible for stopping Kentucky Downs plans for more dates + host-track status dates http://t.co/ATDn3bjDTE— Al Gobbi (@polarcritter) April 11, 2014
@Shapperdacapper Downloading my @TwinSpires history now so I can close my account. @bleck1022 @racetrackandy @petedenk @ChurchillDowns— matt milligan (@tracksidejive) April 10, 2014
The field of organizations to lead Thoroughbred racing out of the dark ages has been whittled down. Please scratch Churchill Downs, Inc.— Dan Needham (@thorotrends) April 10, 2014
@JerseyTom CDI found a way to stick it to the legislators. No casino, new ADW tax so make customer pay now KTDF loophole closed by Frankfort— Craig Brogden (@machmerhallfarm) April 10, 2014
If I am a competitor of @ChurchillDowns I would go on a media blitz to reach all players. Business is there for the taking! Separation time.— Donald Harris (@ClockerDH) April 10, 2014
We're redoing the 2014 track ratings and will issue a new release, now that Churchill has hiked takeout. We hope the industry runs them.— HANA (@HplayersAssnNA) April 10, 2014
Churchill downs, looking to chase away customers, raises takeout on horseplayers by 16%. pic.twitter.com/7PHbuiPtJ5— jack white (@boycottracefive) April 10, 2014
Love the decision by @ChurchillDowns to raise the takeout...Much easier for me to win...Only morons will be still betting & running company— Inside The Pylons (@InsideThePylons) April 10, 2014
Its just a shame Kentucky law limits the maximum takeout rate according to the Courier article logic; take 100% and purses go to the mooon!— Caroline Marie (@CarolineMBetts) April 10, 2014
My goodness, CDI is ruthless. Those horsemen groups warned people about them.— Pullthepocket (@Pullthepocket) April 10, 2014
@Charli125 @ChurchillDowns I just closed my TwinSpires account.— Donald Harris (@ClockerDH) April 10, 2014
@ChurchillDowns Thanks for raising takeout - My $$ will all go to @KYDownsRacing & @keeneland - not you care about horse racing #casino— Jerod Dinkin (@J_Dinks) April 10, 2014
My rational response to decision. @ChurchillDowns does not care about long term growth of the game. They will not see any of my cash again.— Donald Harris (@ClockerDH) April 10, 2014
@petedenk @tracksidejive @TwinSpires So they raised the takeout while also increasing their salaries by almost $20 million— Brian Leckie (@bleck1022) April 10, 2014
Here is a suggestion to racetracks instead of raising takeout, how about stop giving away so much purse money on crappy, unbettable races.— Craig Milkowski (@TimeformUSfigs) April 10, 2014
Churchill Downs to take more from each bet http://t.co/NWfjXu4bvB Exactas from 19% to 22%! Will refrain from commenting til I calm down.— Michael Dempsey (@turfnsport) April 10, 2014
Found: A horseplayer happy with the Churchill Downs takeout hike pic.twitter.com/JgNAYRWQZa— Cangamble (@Cangamble) April 11, 2014
The home of the Kentucky Derby is increasing it's price on the people that run the show, the #Horseplayers. That's rough. #LowerTakeout— Jose A Contreras (@LosPonies) April 10, 2014
Horseplayers have stood by Churchill through good times and bad, this what we get? #playerboycott— seth rosenfeld (@sethlrose) April 10, 2014
@gregoryahall @ChurchillDowns morons, but just what one would expect from a company that hates horse racing.— Steve Zorn (@CVFPartnerships) April 11, 2014
@tracksidejive Amen brother. I have a live derby future, but I'll be closing my @TwinSpires account as well after Bobby's Kitten wins.— Jerod Dinkin (@J_Dinks) April 10, 2014
@ChurchillDowns raises takeout to the max allowable. Prepare for pay toilets at the Kentucky Derby.— joe f (@b1joe) April 10, 2014
@mikeyhorse @Pullthepocket I'm always up for a fight.— Andy Asaro (@racetrackandy) April 10, 2014
This is the most people we've had on the website and blog since the California boycott was announced.— HANA (@HplayersAssnNA) April 10, 2014
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Handicapping Freshman Sires
|Discreetly Mine - Melissa Nolan photo|
|Desert Party - Melissa Nolan photo|