After last night, I have decided Exchange Wagering can't get to New Jersey fast enough. Whether it is mid-year 2011 or later depending on legal fights, I plan on saying good bye to the parimutuel pools and head over to the exchanges as soon as it is becomes available to me. Last night at the Meadowlands, was the final straw.
Watching the Meadowlands on TVG last night in the first race Meirs Hanover was 2-1 just before post time. As soon as the race went off, Meirs Hanover was even money. Okay, less than I hoped for but still acceptable. Then, just before the field reached the half mile pole, the odds changed to 2-5; can anyone say "Crap"? Visions of a $6 payoff became an acceptable $4 payoff before ending up as a $2.40 payoff.
Then came the third race where Rush Of Fools was 10-1 just before the race and again, when the race went off, the 10-1 odds dropped slightly to 9-1; still a great price for me. Then came the dreaded half-mile pole and sure enough, by that time the odds dropped to 6-1. My potential $20 pay off become $15.40 a cut of 23%. If you were a $20 player that was looking at getting back $200, imagine your disappointment when you ended up collecting only $154.00. I felt just as robbed as if I got hit by an NYCOTB surcharge. Winning never felt so bad. Is it any wonder why we have a hard time attracting new gamblers to racing?
Now, I know the drill; it has become quite rote. "Wagering stops once the bell goes off. What you are seeing is the last minute updating of the odds due to the money coming in from other simulcast and ADW locations, but you can rest assured no one was betting after the race started". Then there is the line "Sure, in this case the odds went down, but there are times the odds on a horse goes up'. And of course, we can't forget the infamous "I don't hear you complaining when you get paid more than what you thought you were getting" (sadly, I don't hear that one often enough).
Now, being someone who has been "improving the breed" for more years than I care to admit, I am going nowhere; I'll bide my time until exchange wagering shows up and I'll take my fixed odds payoff rather than dealing with the outdated parimutuel system. Yes, there will be a chance I may have gotten a better payoff if I had waited longer or if I even bet through the parimutuels, but I'll take my chances; if nothing else, at least I will know what I will be getting if I win my bet. It's bad enough you need to beat the takeout rate, but to also deal with the odds changing after the race is underway is more than anyone should have to deal with. After all, if I feel like I am be cheated, what are novices or potential gamblers going to be thinking?
You will hear industry insiders bemoan the real or perceived integrity issues in horse racing, but the one issue they ignore is the perceived lack of integrity with the tote system. You can tell people there is no past posting but all they see is the odds dropping significantly after the race starts and they can't help but wonder if the tote system is being manipulated.
One way the problem can be fixed is the closing of the mutuel pools before the starting car begins moving; perhaps at a specified time. The track operators will tell you that would cost them huge amounts of money as the large gamblers bet at the very last moment (as they still will when the last moment comes earlier). In fairness, there probably would be some loss of wagering by those who wait to see which horses may be going off stride beforehand but that may be somewhat offset by more wagering due to the tote system being perceived as secure. Sure odds may still drop at the last moment but if the odds dropped before the race began, at least people would feel they are be treated fairly. Realizing that will not happen, the horse racing industry must work with tote vendors to develop a way to process last minute wagers much faster so it doesn't seem the computers being used are Commadore 64s. Or the industry can do nothing and eventually bemoan the flight of money from the parimutuel pools into the exchange market.