We all have seen articles which explain how a lower takeout would benefit racing, but it is a rare thing indeed when such an article is written by someone connected to racetrack management. John Berry, the publicity director for Pompano Park, wrote a column calling for a 'new deal' at racetracks. In his article, Berry correctly reports that racing blames everyone but themselves for the problems the industry has with declining attendance and handle and further explains that racetracks are quick to go to the legislature for help when the problem can be corrected by themselves. The problem according to Berry? Racetracks are bankrupting their customers with a high takeout.
Berry calls for a new deal in racing. His solution, 'take a tinge' of the VLT revenue and use it to reduce the takeout rate to stimulate wagering and possibly attract gamblers to the track. In his article, he shows how the track (and horsemen) would benefit from the increased churn. Many businesses, including the casino industry, have learned that discount pricing works. Take a little less profit on each item you sell to stimulate your business and you end up making more money overall on the volume. The same applies to racing.
We are not naive to think things are going to change soon with respect to takeout. Changes like Berry suggests won't occur until racing treats fans as customers instead of gamblers who can be used and abused. But, make no mistake about it, seeing a racetrack executive write a column like this is significant.
The question is how bad will things get before they see the light?