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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Let's Head to the Festival

Let's face it, to the experienced bettor, there is little reason to attend the races at most racetracks.  A lot of racino tracks are built for the casino player in mind with little regard to the horseplayer.  ADWs offer rebates while the majority of tracks offer little financial incentive to wager on track and for the player who wagers on multiple tracks at the same time, nothing beats sitting in front of your own computer to control the signal you want to see at what time.

Some people claim we need to get these players back to the track and while it is an admirable goal, the fact is it may be a fool's effort to get them to show up except for a special occasion.  Tracks would be wise to invest the money they would spend on getting the old bettors back and use this money to form their own ADWs to get a larger share of the revenue which they are losing to existing ADWs.

So what should tracks do if they stop trying to get back the long time horseplayer?  Should they just close their grandstand/clubhouse and race for those wagering through ADWs and the Internet?  I would say no; it is time to use their facilities to attract new handicappers and possibly make their facilities a profit center.

One way tracks can try to attract new fans and gamblers is to adopt the festival model which is used successfully down in Australasia.  Take the upcoming festival at the Roxburgh Trotting Club.  The track goes all out to put on an event for adults and children for a day at the races so there is something for everyone, people willing to pay an admission fee to enjoy the day at the races.  The one difference would be whereas meetings in Australasia are a racing day, North American tracks tend to be open for extended periods of time so it would make sense to have festivals for a week or two at a time.   With a festival set up, tracks would not only be introducing people to horse racing, they will bring in income to help the bottom line.


Anonymous said...

Track managers need to decide whether they want live attendance. Most seem to talk about how difficult it is to get people to the track, but do little to nothing that's different from 25 or 50 years ago. I have to spend gas money to pay for admission(some places) and a program plus wait many minutes past post time to see each live race. In return, I occasionally get a free $2 betting ticket or hat.

That worked when watching and betting on races required a trip to the track. Technology changed all that. A track that truly wants an audience for the product needs to offer that live customer something for the expense and time expended to get to the track. Think free programs and non-alcoholic drinks. Discounts for certain on track bets that include takeout refunds. Cash bonuses for reaching specified daily betting levels. 2 for 1 meal deals on a weeknight. Special events that can only be experienced on track.

If tracks can't or won't do any of the above, just admit defeat. Put available money into running competitive ADWs and build pools with the hope that an historic sport will survive.

Count said...

Maybe they should throw in an all expenses paid vacation to Paris too! The beauty of horse racing is watching it live. The magnificent animals running on the track. The colors and beauty of the racetrack. If horse racing is reduced to people betting from home on their computers then they might as well just watch an electronic dice roll or a ball spin or the Wheel of Fortune machine. Maybe it IS time to wrap things up before we destroy the entire wonderful history of the sport.

Pacingguy said...

Count, I am one of those who love going to the track and watching the races live. Quite honestly, I get bored watching from home. Unfortunately, there are those who just look at it as gambling.