The USTA Board of Directors concluded their second day of meetings with the approval of several rule changes. As predicted, the vast majority of the rule proposals were defeated. Of the rules approved, the first change (proposal #1) deals with the formalization of the acceptance of electronic signatures on forms and filings. Proposal #2 allows the use of cell phones and PDAs in the paddock by horsemen for legitimate business and personal concerns.
The other two rule changes approved, with amendments, were safety-related. Proposal 4 dealt with the requirement that all belt buckles on the front of the hobble hangers be taped and proposal 5 dealt with giving the judges the authority to stop a race due to a dangerous condition developing as a result of an accident or other unforeseen circumstance and declare it a non-contest. Specifics of the amendments are not known as of now.
It was also announced that Yonkers Raceway has also signed on to offer guaranteed Pick 4s for the month of April, bringing three tracks involved in the initial month; joining Balmoral Park and Northfield Park in the program being offered by the USTA and several ADWs with the risk of pool shortfalls being split 50-50..
Outside of the USTA meeting, Northfield Park has announced a reduction in their takeout rates on certain exotic wagers. For Pick-3, Pick-4, and Pick-5 wagers, the takeout rate will be reduced to 14% a reduction of more than 1/3 from the current levels. As can be expected, this should increase the amount of play on these wagers.
While takeout reductions on exotic wagers are great, one must ask about the little guy. Up to now, with the exception of Tioga Downs, all the takeout reductions have been made for the bigger horseplayers. I would like to know why we can't see tracks reducing the takeout rate on Win, Place, and Show wagers? Is it because smaller bettors tend to stick to the standard wagers and tracks are trying to stick it to the small time gamblers? As I have often said, new gamblers tend to start off small and if you are soaking them with a high takeout rate when they are starting out, they may never get to the point of becoming large gamblers as they getting hit twice; once in learning the game; the second time with a high takeout rate. It wouldn't be they are trying to stick it to those not aware of the concept of takeout?