Now that John Berry wrote about a 'New Deal' for racing where slot revenue goes to reduce the takeout rate, it is time to test the idea out to see if it works in reality. Of course, the problem is how do we test it? After all, we realize most track executives (and horsemen) are down right suspicious and fearful of this theory. If they were to make such a dramatic takeout cut and it did not provide the desired results, how do you restore the takeout rate in the same season? Also, how do you test the theory in the current world when you have ADWs and simulcast outlets ready to cut your signal off if you cut the takeout rate too much?
The answer is you try this at real short race meet. Meets that are short enough where you can reduce the takeout rate for the whole meet, without having to raise it back up during the meet. Short enough that an ADW or simulcast site will be willing to carry the signal even if it means a slight loss to the ADW or simulcast partner if the experiment goes bad.
As alluded to, this experiment will require buy in from all the stakeholders; track operators, horsemen, ADWs, simulcast partners, and state legislatures. ADWs and simulcast partners would need to agree to continue taking the test track's signal during the test period (it may be necessary to offer a slight reduction in their commission for the test period). Track operators and horsemen must be willing to give up a portion of their share of the takeout. State legislatures will need to pass legislation to allow for the reduced takeout during the test period as well as possibly reduce or eliminate their portion of the takeout (if any) during the trials.
We need to identify test subjects for this experiment. Due to most tracks having longer meets, we need the help of our t-bred cousins in this experiment; we should have one track from each breed participating.
Ideal candidates for this test would be The Red Mile (Grand Circuit meet) and Atlantic City Race Course. Next year, The Red Mile will race only an eight day Grand Circuit meet while Atlantic City Race Course traditionally races six days during the year. Each of these tracks would be able to advertise the reduced takeout rate in advance of their meets. At The Red Mile, their race sponsors could be asked to make up any shortfall (if any) in the purse account as a result of the experiment and at ACRC, t-bred horsemen could divert a small portion of the purse supplements targeted for Monmouth and the Meadowlands to ACRC horsemen (themselves) if a shortfall to the purse account occurs.
At the end of their respective meets, the impact on attendance (it would be interesting to see how attendance at ACRC, a few miles outside of Atlantic City is impacted) and handle could be evaluated. We then will have actual figures to review to determine how much attendance and wagering changes when the takeout is reduced x%. Then the entire racing industry (tracks, horsemen, ADWs and simulcast partners) can decide on a nationwide level how to address the takeout issue to the benefit of all.
Let's give Berry's theory a test. After all, we have little to lose and plenty to gain.