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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pool Integrity and Outsourcing

Updated: Corrected the date of the race.  We have talked in the past about the integrity of wagering, but here is a case where we need to talk about it again.

On Thursday, July 26 at the Meadows, the eleventh race seemed like every other race.  Take a look at this screen capture as the horses go just past the 3/4 mile pole.

Nothing unusual, the #4 horse, On The Tab is on his way to victory at a nice 4-1 mutuel.  That's fine, but let's take a look at the payoffs:
Race 11    ONE MILE    Dirt

Purse: $13500.00        


4  On the Tab

Aaron Merriman
1  Tough Call
Dan Rawlings

3  Trou Normand
Mike Wilder

What happened to make #4 On The Tab a winner at 1.80-1 instead of the 4-1 winner he appeared to be with a 1/4 of a mile to go?  We know due to simulcasting, it takes longer for the final odds to be determined, but those odds are typically updated by the time the field reaches the half mile pole.  Was there a problem with a transmission of final bets from a wagering hub?  Was someone allowed to cancel a large wager on another horse after the race started?  Ore more troubling, did the wagering windows not get shut at a remote location or at the Meadows?   We don't know.  What we do know is those who cashed a ticket on the winner can't help but feel they were cheated.

An inquiry has been sent to the judges at The Meadows for an explanation.  Should I hear back from the judges, I will update you accordingly.

As important as racing integrity is, pool integrity is just as important, yet we seem to fail every racing day.  Now, I am realistic in knowing that racinos who consider racing a necessary evil and regular racetracks which are trying to hold on financially are not about to spend a lot of money on fixing the problem but the problem needs to be addressed if you want wagering to grow.  I am also aware of tracks are reluctant to close their wagering at post time to get all the money in before the race actually starts, so what can be done?

Maybe it is time to do what other business do when there is a particular function of their business they are unable to do well; outsource.  The time has come to outsource the wagering function to an outside firm.  A firm willing to expend the money necessary to modernize tote systems as well as the infrastructure needed at racetracks for a set percentage of the wagering handle.  One can go further and outsource the mutuel tellers as well to this company and they would be responsible for staffing at the track where instead of the track paying the tote company a percentage, the tote company pays the track and the horsemen either a set amount or a percentage of the wagering to put on the races.

In effect, what I am suggesting is we have something like New Zealand's TAB, which is the retail size of the New Zealand Racing Board.  Now, I am not suggesting the state(s) operate the TAB business, but a company out there can perform these functions (though they would have to compete with the existing ADWs).

Clearly, the tracks are unable or unwilling to fix this problem.  Let's let a company who knows what to do take over the wagering function and solve these problems once and for all. 

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