06/09/2016 4:20PM

Del Mar plans to tweak pick six payoffs to fuel carryovers


A tweak in pick six rules at Del Mar will lower consolation payoffs while increasing 6-of-6 payoffs and carryover amounts when the summer meet begins July 15.

In an effort to revive waning interest in the pick six, Del Mar will restructure payoff percentages to an 85-15 split of the net pool – 85 percent to perfect tickets or carryover, 15 percent to consolation payoffs. The traditional split in Southern California is 70-30.

Although takeout remains 23.68 percent, officials hope that the new payoff structure boosts carryover amounts and corresponding interest. The change, which needs approval by the California Horse Racing Board, was green-lighted after Del Mar met with players’ groups, according to Craig Dado, executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

“We’ve had focus groups with our biggest pick six players, guys that are in the pools day in and day out, even when there is no carryover, and the majority prefer bigger payouts of 6-of-6, opposed to the consolation,” Dado said.

“Historically, the pick six has been one of our most important marketing tools,” Dado added. “When there is a carryover in the pick six, we see significant increases in handle, not just in the pick six but other pools. The bigger the carryover, the more they like it.”

While higher 6-of-6 payoffs and carryover amounts are supported by big players, the revised format slices consolation payoffs in half, from 30 percent to 15 percent. That could frustrate smaller bettors who rely on an occasional consolation to stay in action.

“I understand this change might not be universally applauded, but this will make the carryovers bigger and will please our everyday pick six players,” Dado said.

One year ago, Del Mar considered dropping the consolation provision altogether but opted to maintain the same rules after significant backlash.

Interest in the Del Mar pick six has steadily declined over the past 10 years, while pick five and pick four pools have mushroomed. One reason for the increased popularity of the pick five is its reduced takeout, 14 percent. Yet the pick four, which is taxed at the same 23.68 percent rate as the pick six, is Del Mar’s fastest-growing wager.

Another major reason for the increased popularity of the pick five and pick four is the minimum bet size, which is 50 cents. The pick six minimum bet remains $2.

During the 2015 summer meet, the pick four accounted for 7.7 percent of total handle, the pick five 6.2 percent, and the pick six 4.4 percent. The most popular wager remains the traditional win bet, which last summer accounted for more than 20 percent of handle.

Del Mar’s pick six proposal is scheduled for discussion and action at the CHRB meeting scheduled for June 16 at Santa Anita.