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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Transparency Means Respect (Correction)

Bloggers Note:  Meant to say charts instead of past performance.  Correction has been highlighted.

A friend of mine who has been playing standardbreds since 1971 is throwing in the towel and leaving the game.  Why has caused him to give up the game?  A lack of transparency.  What in particular has irked him?  A bunch of issues, really but the specifics don't matter.

I'm not going to get into the validity of his concerns or not, everyone feels differently regarding certain issues.  But after thinking about what he and others have said to me, it boils down to a lack of respect for the gambler.  The game's rules are written in the best interests of horsemen and tracks, with little concern for the gambler; the lack of a fair start rule in the United States being a perfect example (you knew I was going to work that one into this),  Information is not provided the gamblers regarding the race card or if it is, one often has to go on a quest to find the information.

This lack of respect of horseplayers, treating of them as a necessary evil; is an issue which has gotten worse since slots have been feeding purses.  This lack of respect is not giving gamblers information they should have.  Granted, some would say certain information is essential, others would say it is just noise in the handiapping equation.

So what information should be given ot the horseplayer?  Do the gamblers need to know every minutia of information?  Do they have a right to know about track maintenance, horses being legally pre-treated, sore horses, sick horses (minor) during the week and bike types among other things?  Perhaps driving strategies (to take it to the extreme)? 

Clearly everyone has their own definition of necessary information.  While some tracks provide a lot of information for their customers, others are woefully lacking.  I do think there needs to be a certain standard and the USTA should develop it, detailing the minimum amount of information which should be made available to the betting public.  While at present such a standard would be voluntary as the USTA lacks the enforcement ability to make it mandatory, the lack of complying could be used by ADWs and other tracks in determining which signals they will be carrying.
Here is what I feel would be a minimum standard for every racetrack to provide for their live and simulcast customers: 

1.       Tracks must provide equipment changes on their simulcast scroll or on their own website, readily available under  “Today’s Changes”. 

2.       Tracks must provide driver choices on their simulcast scroll or on their own website, readily available under “Today’s Changes”. 

3.       Tracks must post on their website all fines and suspensions relevant to racing at their track under the category “Judges’ Rulings”

4.       Tracks must publish in their program the most current set of charts available at publishing time and on their website, the charts for a minimum of the last seven racing days. 

5.       In the event the program is printed with a ‘line to be announced’ for a horse, the complete line must be announced  and posted on the scroll and under “Today’s Changes”. 

6.       Tracks must provide detailed reasons for scratches when providing information to the USTA. 

7.       Tracks must provide a comment regarding a horse’s performance on each race line for qualifying and pari-mutuel races.

8.       If an inquiry is posted, the public should see what the judges are reviewing, be provided a reason for any placing or non-placing as well as shown the video which shows the reason for the decision made by the judges.

9.       If there is a difference of one length or less, the photo finish image must be shown.  This applies for any position which is included in the race’s wager opportunities.

10.   The track’s website must have a link to the state’s racing commission so fans may contact them with any complaints.

 I am sure you may come up with your own wish list of information but you get the point.  Show the horseplayer some respect and give them information they feel necessary, don't cloak it in secret.   Remember, if you don't show them respect, there is another other gaming option willing to do so.

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