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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Unshackling Racetracks

On the HANA website, their wish list for 2013 are posted.  I must say, it is a darn good list if you are a horse player.  It's also a good list for horsemen and track operators though I'm not sure most of them would realize it. 

I love the idea of a 10% takeout on Win, Place, and Show wagers.  If you are offering 15% takeouts on Pick-4s where they payoffs tend to be much larger, how do you continue to offer 17% takeout on straight wagers, especially when they pay so little and these days offer relatively small pay-offs? 

Speaking of takeout rates, why does the NJRC regulations mandate a minimum takeout rate of 17% on straight wagers as well as a maximum takeout rate of 25%?  This is the kind of antiquated regulation back when racing was the only game around.  But now, when racing has to compete against the lottery, casinos, and poker, racing commisions want to shackle racetracks with non-competitive takeout rates?  Could you imagine a casino control board mandating takeouts on casino slot machines to be between 17-25%?  Why do it to racing?

In order to protect the public, something racing commissions often fail to remember is one of their responsibilities, the only thing a racing commission should be doing with takeout is mandating the ceiling of rates.  The racetrack and horsemen should be free to price their wager at what they feel the market will bear.  Only then can racing have a chance to compete against the casinos.

First Western Fair District, then WEG. Woodbine Entertainment has announced purses will be cut 10% to preserve purse money as they head towards the expiration of the SAR program, No doubt this will only be the first cut; an appetizer of sorts presaging what lies ahead. How low purses and racing dates are to be cut is anyone's guess.

Standardbred Canada's Daryl Kaplan wrote an article about the bingo halls in Ontario which have new 'bingo' machines. It's been a while since I've been to the casinos but the new machines sure look like slot machines to me. Granted, being south of the border, I expect Standardbred Canada to keep opposing the end of the SR program but I can't help but wonder if this is all for naught.

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