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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Annual Meeting Post Script - What Horseplayers Can Do

If you have been watching the Harness Congress and USTA Annual Board meeting, you would notice the horseplayer got the short end of the discussion.  Sure, there was some talk regarding the success and continuation of the strategic wagering program in addition to conversations on making the experience for wagering over the Internet better but those were discussed from the view point of people in the industry.  Talk about lowering the takeout, other changes the customer may want to see, as well as horse welfare concerns of some horseplayers?  Little if any discussion.

No one should be surprised by this, nor angry either because you need to realize what the USTA really is.  In addition to being the breed registry, it in effect is a trade organization made up of racetrack officials, breeders, owners, trainers, and drivers.  Their goal is to promote harness racing from the perspective of industry participants which is why on more than one occasion the conversation was about getting and maintaining slot mmachines and revenue.  Now if this was an organization which had race fan representation, I would be upset, but when you consider who HHI, HTA, and the USTA represent, their response is normal and expected.  The goal of these groups is to keep harness racing going and the idea of less racing is foreign to many because it means horse people losing jobs and the last thing you expect a trade organization to promote is something which is going to cost their members jobs.

I am sure this phenomenon is no different for other breeds (and industries) which is why horseplayers need to join together and form their own organization to represent their interests in dealing with the racing industry which not only includes horse people and track operators; it also includes racing commissions and ADWs.  A single voice is going to get little if anything done; a group has a better chance to affect change which benefits them.

Fortunately, for horseplayers, there is such an organization, the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) and membership is open to all horseplayers regardless of breed and wagering amount.  HANA's board of volunteers always welcomes horseplayers to become part of the organization as the more members it has, the louder its voice is.  If you play horses, you should join HANA and lend your voice so the organization may represent you and your fellow horseplayers.  When you think about it, there really is no reason not to join as membership is free.  Check out HANA's web page for further information and if you are ready to join your fellow horseplayers, you may sign-up for membership here.

It's your choice.  You can voice your complaints in silence or be heard as a group.  Consider joining HANA now.


Anonymous said...


I never expected owners, breeders, trainers, drivers or the leaders of the associations that represent horsemen and horsewomen to care about the bettors. They're too busy taking what they can get from an industry that paid so little before slots.

However, I don't let race track owners and managers off the hook as quickly as you. The tracks should care about the customer and it's inexcusable that some continue to ignore us.

Why do tracks charge for information that allows you to spend money on their races? Why do tracks charge exorbitant takeout rates? Why do tracks set a start time for a race and then make you wait many minutes? Why do tracks with casinos have different (lower) customer service standards for horseplayers?

So many questions and no answers coming from most of the tracks. Are they waiting for all the customers to abandon racing before they wonder what went wrong?

I like the goals of HANA, but harness doesn't get much attention. The last entry for harness bettors was in December.

Pacingguy said...

Well even if HANA Harness has been inactive, it will likely be picking up again, it still helps to belong to HANA. Many of the changes HANA helps force on the runners eventually makes its way to the runners.