04/20/2011 3:58PM

Election Day

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The ballot box opens Thursday, when the least expensive wager in California makes its debut on opening day of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meet.

California raised the exotic-wager takeout rate by a 10- to 15-percent margin Jan. 1 (from 20.68 cents per dollar, to 22.68 and 23.68). The cost went up, demand went down. Winter handle plummeted.

This occurred in the face of an arrogant attitude by some.

“Takeout does not matter,” a horseman told me in January. “You gamblers will bet on anything.”

No, we won’t. Someone got the message.

Hollywood this spring will offer a low-takeout pick five that begins in the first race. The 14-percent takeout on the 50-cent bet is the lowest in the state.

It is refreshing when a racetrack takes a proactive measure that favors its customers.

It is up to horseplayers to respond.

Want to do send California racing a message? Vote with your bankroll Thursday.

Joel More than 1 year ago
The reason that nobody ever used to mention takeout rates is because it wasn't an issue until a few years back when the powers that be decided to price us all out of the game! Vote with your wallet. Take your family out to dinner or something in place of one of your afternoons at the races. The drop in handle will get some attention when the bottom line is read at the end of the meet!
thehoarsehorsplayer More than 1 year ago
Blackseabass touches upon a very interesting point that I think doesn't get enough attention: Racing's economics are predicated upon a "churn model" which is inconsistent with multi-race wagering, which ties up money for longer periods of time. Of course, one could make the argument that having an early pick five addresses the problem in that by paying out earlier it encourages churn for the remainder of the day. We'll see. And while one would never argue against lowered takeouts in any pool, I think it must be noted that low takeouts and good value are not the same thing. I mean, would you rather get 5-1 on a horse you think should be 5-1 without any takeout (like from a bookie) or 10-1 on a horse you think should be 5-1 despite a 20 percent takeout? The other side of the same coin is that a 14 percent takeout does not guarantee you're getting good value if you're over-betting the pool. That practice, encouraged by multi-race formats, I suspect is draining horseplayers more than the takeout. I have never quite understood the logic of celebrating how much more the pick 4-5-6 returned than the $2 parlay when the pick 4-5-6 investment cost hundreds of dollars. But I do know the advantage of having one fixed takeout rather than repeated takouts doesn't account entirely for the phenomena of the higher return. This happens fairly often in the pick four ... the multi-race payout will be higher than the parlay even if there was zero takeout on the individual races. Well, if there is no takeout on the win bets parlayed, and the pick four still offers a higher payout than a parlay despite having a takeout, this means the "value" in the pool is being provided by another factor, which I submit is the public over-betting the pool. Too many people will bet too many losing tickets in order to cash one winner. Of course, it's in the interest of handle to have horseplayers bet more than less and so they are encouraged to pursue their folly, but you know at some point it's going to dawn on somebody, with handles falling rather precipitously and all that, that new betting options are not inducing fresh money into the game, but rather transferring money from established pools. These new pools make extravagant promises to all, but deliver realizable value only to most single-minded of horseplayers, while at the same time deliquifying the churn. One does have to question whether anybody in this industry has really thought anything out for the long term.
Patty T More than 1 year ago
It wasn't that long ago when you didn't read or hear a thing about this thing called takeout ... now it's all anyone talks about.
Del More than 1 year ago
The one thing that has always bothered me about serial bets is that they can tell you how many live tickets are left as the card progresses. They can tell you what horses are live. Why should any entity be able to do so? Making this information invites intervention for corrupt and illegal purposes. I'm suspicious because it seems like when the track needs a big carryover, guess what? A huge longshot busts the pick six apart. Very handy for the track administration to up the carryovers and increase handle.
Rick in N.O. More than 1 year ago
I will hazard a guess and say that you along with myself have worn out more than one pair of shoes at racetracks, and all my days there the biggest "gamblers" were the horsemen themselves.
MikeD More than 1 year ago
A reduction of takeout of one wager hardly makes up for the increase to horseplayers in the other exotic pools. It's not even close, but they would like you to think it is. Don't be fooled. They still need to reduce the takeout in other pools before they will ever see a dime from me.
Nancy Taylor More than 1 year ago
Wow, was I wrong about the pick five today at Hollywood Park. Looks like the new wager is going to be a huge success. Over $100K wagered today, despite all short fields. Got to believe the pool will be over $200K on Saturday with much better horses and bigger fields. I still believe that the pool would be larger if they moved it to the last five races. Finally, something positive coming from California.
John H More than 1 year ago
This 14 percent is just a baby step in the right direction. Horse racing needs churn, as in Las Vegas slot-machine style. Give us 10 percent takeout for all wagers, and nickel breakage where the heavy takeout is.
RoMo More than 1 year ago
The diminishing handle speaks more to the quality of the product in California (and elsewhere) as much as "takeout."
SamG More than 1 year ago
I stopped betting California when they went to synth. Santa Anita finally goes back to dirt and they raise the takeout. The new pick 5 sounds good but now we're back to Hollywood and I don't bet synth, sorry. Ok, I had a couple bucks on Brilliant Speed but only because Andy Serling liked him ...