08/17/2014 11:49AM

Letter to the editor: Give tracks takeout flexibility

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The recent opinion piece by Andrew Beyer on low-takeout pick fives makes you think: How about letting racetracks control the most important part of their business, the wagering?   

Even within the confines of simulcasting agreements and government-mandated takeout percentages, they should be allowed to vary takeout, just like a store would run a sale for a given day. Or how about a specific race? How about the New York Racing Association offering “no NYRA trifecta takeout Thursdays?”

The ideas are limitless. But get the government, whether commissions or legislatures, out of the decision. Or maybe allow racetracks to treat the oversight takeouts as a maximum allowed, with the tracks free to go lower, on any schedule they choose.

Imagine if Wal-Mart or any department store had to go to the state to get pricing or sale pricing approved. That would kill their business. Wagering is the business of racetracks. They need more control of their own fate. They need to react quickly to market forces.

I bet you have many better (no pun intended) ideas of what they could offer one time or ongoing that the customer would love. Think about it.

Ray Davis
Tampa

Jeff More than 1 year ago
We all bemoan the fact that no one actually goes to the track any longer. Why don't we try to address that with an incentive? For an exotic wager that has a 25 percent takeout, lower that to 10 percent if the ticket is purchased at the track. Whether this would work, actually, is beside the point. The point is, we need to start to think outside the box.
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
That's the trend everywhere, Baseball, etc. stay at home and watch on TV. I go to the track on the big days.I have not seen a major decrease at the track, the off-tracks have declined though. With Internet why go? I'll stay at home and work off the Net , you have HRTV,TVG, online PP's are cheaper, comfortable seats, food, beer in the fridge. I can get 1 PP for $1-$2 instead of the entire form for $7.50. Save gas, entry fee , and I can skip more races sitting at home. I get bored easy, one can waste a lot of time at the track. yes, takeout is a major issue, higher payouts would bring more bettors, also today's young , even 50ish years of age players are computer savvy, the racing programs are a little bit behind the times of presenting data, data mining for the internet.. For instance I use my Ipad at the track now... I can remove scratch horses and recalculate comparative figures in my manner instead of in my head.
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
sorry , I went a little off the subject.
Walter More than 1 year ago
Slots fueled tracks should be the first to lower takeout. They have the benefit of profiting from BOTH horse racing takeout & slots profits. Tracks around the country cry poor and beg their respective legislatures for slots. A selling point is bigger purses. Purses are only important for track and horse owners. When is the last time a horseplayer cashed a purse?
william More than 1 year ago
1.5% takeout per horse....that is similar to how bookmakers in the UK work.
Joseph Rotell More than 1 year ago
15% - 25% takeout on exacta's and tri's is way to high, it should be more like 7%-10% and 5%or 6% on WPS
Beenthere Donethat More than 1 year ago
....Interesting thoughts here, takeout by odds back, or takeout by # of starters. I think that any change will be more expensive to manage, keep track of, verify correct. Flat rate is easier and less expensive to implement. With that in mind, the number of starters is the way racing can help its bettors. It is much better to have the current takeout rates applied to better payouts than letting things continue as they are. When the 2-5 horse in a 5 horse race becomes 2-1 or better with a larger field, then takeout doesn't hurt as much the way it is. Perhaps the racing secretaries should shorten the condition book, and take entries for more races than are carded. This will allow the racing secretary to scratch races that draw short, while hopefully retaining a full card of races with fuller fields. Opportunities to re-enter for scratched races can be offered a few racing days later.
Mike R More than 1 year ago
Your suggestions are already being done, they are called extras. The small fields are usually better horses, can't eliminate them as they also need to run. The root of the problem is NW2 & NW3 for all levels of claiming. Why not write just claiming races without conditions?
Beenthere Donethat More than 1 year ago
That is what I meant by shortening the condition book: removing choices for entry. I know a higher-up at a small track, and somehow they have to come up with card with decent fields. As you mention, you will not find a race there for fm, going 6.5 furlongs, nw2lifetime, restricted to statebred only, only horses with names that start with letter J, born on a certain day. No, You will only find 6 furlongs dirt FM, and that is only if enough females are around at the meet. If not all races are open. They get decent fields, and respectable payouts even when favorites win. Like you, I would rather see a full field of open company instead of entire races carded for a narrow group of horses. One reason trainers look for options is because many horses hog the claiming classes by winning and remaining in the same class. Perhaps a mandatory class hike after a win, like most trainers do on their own after a claim, would open up the lower open claiming ranks for these horses that seem to need a race especially built for them. Like some tracks, statebred bonuses should be built into the race, instead of having an entire class for them, when fields are drawing short.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I spent considerable time at Turfway Park, everyone had a suggestion about what was wrong with the track. The only problem was that, to the individual bettor who had a complaint, the resolution only addressed his/her immediate concern. The other side, management, who tried to balance expenses with revenues, were never mentioned. But I will give 'em this much. In the five years I spent around Florence, fans turned their back on TP.. A few of them were heard saying that (GM) Elliston should cut the takeout. Glad Bob made it to the BC. Good manager.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The future of horse racing in North America will be determined by the number of us who go to the races and wager while we're there. No track in existence can pay its' current purses with on-track dollars and takeout. Not one. Every other hypothetical should be seen as just pipe dreaming or idle musings; they're worth absolutely nothing. Maybe each of us would be better served by offering a business plan for a new racetrack - in any state we choose - at which time we'd find that "My Track will offer the lowest takeout" or "No Takeout Yields record Attendance" wouldn't lead to an immediate influx of capital.
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
This is a complex problem with a number of factions fiercely defending their "turf". That said, I applaud your thoughtful suggestion and only hope that it prompts others to come forward in a construction way to get the conversation rolling.
Bob More than 1 year ago
Sorry Ray but racetracks are little more than tax mills for state governments and they aren't about to let the track operators have any control over the level of taxation. Think of government as an organized crime family: The feds represent the Godfather. State governments are captains, or as they like to refer to them in the movies "capos." Local governments are the foot soldiers on the street...the ones who have to come face-to-face with the riff-raff everyday and shake them down. Me, you and everyone else who sets foot in a racetrack or places a wager over the internet is a pawn in their game, which is designed to extract as much money as possible from the lowest person on the totem pole. And when they are done each level of the organization kicks a little piece of tribute "upstairs." In the end, the biggest piece of the largesse goes to the Godfather, even though the Godfather receives a smaller percentage of the overall "take" because the Godfather is at the top of the pyramid.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What if tracks could have a 30% takeout on race with 12 or more horses but had to have a 10% takeout on races with 6 or less horses?