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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What Could Have Avoided the 'Grand Beat'?

You may have read about the 'bad beat' at Louisiana Downs where a horseplayer thought they won a $488,000 Super Pick-5 pay-off when his horse crossed the finish line first in the last race.  After all, this is what the 'will pay' graphic showed.  Imagine his disappointment when he was paid only $11,983.  What happened?  The rules of the Super Pick-5 are that the jackpot is paid out only when one person has the winning combination.  If more than one person has the winning combination, half of the day's play gets paid out while the rest is added to the jackpost.  In the last race after the graphic was shown, there was a late scratch and sure enough, his horse became the post time favorite at the last minute; hence there were two winners.

The track did nothing wrong as the rules were followed, but it seems like it is another black eye for racing.  Let's face it when you get paid only a fraction of what you think you are going to get paid, you can't help but feel you are getting screwed.  When others read about the story, they are going to think racing is not a sport to wager on.

The fact is the horseplayer, now with options to gamble on, has become more sophisticated so the wager's rules need to be more sophisticated.  Merely not showing the 'will pays' as Louisiana Downs has done is not the answer.

A more common sense rule for these mega-jackpost wagers would be for the jackpot to be paid out when there is only one 'natural' ticket with the winning combination. Yes, the person who had the winning ticket on the basis of a late scratch would share in the jackpot, but at least in this case, the original horseplayer would have ended up with $244,000 instead of a relative pittance.

Instead of giving a gambler the post time favorite, why not offer a consolation payoff?  Yes, there could be multiple payoffs as a result of offering a consolation payoff, which would deduct from the jackpot but at least in the case of this wager, if you had thea scratched horse, you would collect if you had all the correct winners in the the other legs, yet maintain the original premise of the jackpot being paid out only if there is one winner of the bet.

Better yet, instead of assigning the post time favorite, why not make the horseplayer select a substitute runner who live if the original horse is scratched.    Otherwise, it would be possible for someone who had multiple runners in any of the legs to end up beating themselves by having to two combinations with the post time favorite due to a scratch, defeating themselves inadvertingly.

Any of these options would also prevent gamblers from manipulating the win pool by betting a horse with no chance to make sure a certain horse is not the post time favorite.  While the track benefits from this strategy, the rest of the gamblers are at a disadvantage.

The bottom line is you can't offer new style bets with old fangled wagering policies supporting them.