05/05/2015 4:40PM

Giwner: Takeout irrelevant with Jackpot bets


I have been meaning to write something that will piss off the “takeout crusaders” for a few weeks now. Not necessarily to annoy them but because it needs to be said.

When it comes to Jackpot wagers, takeout simply doesn’t matter. That’s right, I said it!

The sole purpose of the Jackpot wagers is to ultimately provide a huge pool at the end of the rainbow that will attract attention and handle. While it is offered every racing night, the bet only really matters the two to three times a year when the track elects to do a mandatory payout.

The most common Jackpot wagers in harness racing involve correctly selecting the first five finishers in order. To take down the entire pool, a player must have the only winning ticket. A consolation payout is distributed when there are multiple winning tickets. These rules are in place every day except when a mandatory payout is announced. On those days every winning ticket shares in the entire pool (minus takeout).

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Are the logistics behind the wager favorable to bettors on a daily basis? No. The fact is that the majority of people betting either don’t care or are not well informed about where their money goes and how it gets paid out. They see a bet and play.

Ultimately the proof is in the results. People are wagering on these Jackpot bets and they are producing large returns for the tracks in terms of handle on payout days. How else do you explain the current growing pool totals of $186,850 (Pompano Park), $103,769 & $77,990 (Meadowlands) and $37,874 (Mohawk) waiting to be increased each racing day? And let’s not forget the $2.5 and $3 million pools created at Mohawk and Woodbine over the previous year.

The bottom line is simple. Whether or not they make good economical sense, people like the possibility of winning a jackpot, even though the chances of winning are closer to none than slim. This is why the lottery succeeds despite about a 50% takeout rate. Have you ever seen the odds of winning Power Ball or Mega Millions? You have a better shot of becoming President or getting struck by lightning. Yet people pour millions into those games.

Let’s not confuse my statements above with saying that takeout doesn’t matter at all. To any serious player, takeout should play a huge role in wagering decisions and these Jackpot wagers are ultimately a great thing for “whales”.

Think about it, the whales avoid the Jackpot wagers because they are bad bets and wait for the common folk to create a large mandatory payout pool. Then they get to play into a huge pool with a substantial carryover at levels that the people who built the pool can’t compete.

So for everyone that says Jackpot wagers are (fill-in negative adjective here), I disagree, and so do those people playing them every day.