Sunday, December 22, 2013

Things I Would Like to See in 2014 (But Probably Won't)

The following post comes from View From the Racetrack Grandstand and is being used with permission.  Since the list is long, it has been edited (and renumbered) for brevity to focus solely on the gambling angle.  If you want to read the entire list, you can check the complete blog entry here. 

1.    Some track(s) to reduce takeout rates on something other than Pick-4s or Superfectas
2.      Exchange wagering to finally come to California harness racing, and then quickly come to New Jersey.
 3.  Free ‘basic’ program pages available on American Racetrack websites.  I have no problem with people having to pay for advanced programs but if we want people to even sample the sport, we need to give them something to look at.   Names don't cut it.

 4. (or put in your ADW) to cover some additional tracks (such as Fraser Downs).  While we are at it, how about some foreign harness racing.  No, I don’t expect it to be on television, but over the Internet, how expensive can it be?  At least the classics such as the Prix d’Amerique and the Elitlopp. .

 5.  A Fair Start Rule (Definitely not holding my breath on this one).

 6.  Legislators coming to their sense in Illinois and pass the ADW bill.  Why we are at it, why do you insist on a sunset provision?

  7.  Racetracks and their own ADWs show some love to the little player.  Look, I understand the larger players pay the bills but the smaller player deserve some type of rebates.  Instead of 3% back, give them 1% back.  Instead of crediting them it back daily, do it quarterly.  The point is give them something tangible back; something to let them know you appreciate their business.  And please, make it a wagering credit, a free program after spending $250 doesn't cut it. 

  8.  Stop this nonsense of having state governments assessing domestic market fees on out of state ADWs to get the customers YOU LOST back.  If your ADW offered rebates like the out of state ADWs, you wouldn't need the state to get your customers back.  Compete for your customers and win them back.  Instead of having the state tax out of state ADWs, lobby them to give you a percentage of the pari-mutuel tax for rebates. 

  9.  An understanding of the criteria for getting licensed in California.  Do they check on prior records or are they that desperate for warm bodies that a warm body is the criteria?

10.  How about a percentage of the takeout going towards horse retirement/placement in second careers when they are done and publicize the fact it's being done.  In some jurisdictions some money is being used exactly for that but it's treated like a state secret; that's not smart.

11.  Horsemen who worry more about how many people are in the stands than they do about how much slot revenue they may get or not get.

12.  Require horsemen to wager.  Of course, not on their horses but they should be required to wager at least $1,000 over a year using a card which can be used to track the wagers.  You would be surprised how many horse owners and others don't bet the races.  I won't speculate why but maybe if they wagered on the races they would appreciate what the gambler goes through.  Maybe then they would understand why we are not happy with the way things are.

13.  Judges to finally recognize the lunacy of transferring horses to a second trainer when the regular trainer gets suspended and stop approving them.

14.  The end of seeing horses consistently race lackluster in eliminations and then turn into bear cats the following week.

15.  Get rid of earning your post position based on your finish in the elimination.  You say it's not fair to draw the outside when you win the elimination, but you had no problem when someone else drew the outside in the elimination and had to race their heart out hoping to advance to the final.  Earning post positions is utter bull, well you get the idea.  If a random draw is good enough for an elimination, it should be good enough for the final.  

16.  Consistency when it comes to exclusions.  I'm all for a private track operator to show 'undesirable' people the door, but while it is a good tool for the operator, you can't help but wonder why one person gets to race while someone else is banished to the hinterlands when the individuals seem to be having similar situations.  It gives the appearance of playing favorites which hurts credibility.
17.  Cooperation between area tracks so that simulcast viewers could watch a race every 5 minutes, instead of 3 races going off at the same time and then waiting 15 minutes for another 3 races that go off at the same time.

18.  Continuing on a cooperation and coordination theme, do we need to have Harrah's, Meadowlands, Pocono Downs, and Yonkers Raceway all racing at the same time?  First of all there is not that much demand for the product and secondly, you are watering down the racing stock available at each track.  Coordinate the meets instead of slugging it out against each other and not only will the racing be better but your handles will increase (especially if you get rid of your extortion-like takeout rates Pennsylvania).

19.  Races to go off at post time with the countdown clock like they have in Sweden and the WEG tracks.  If the race is held up, it should be no more than two minutes (Remember USTA Rule 16 Section 10?)

    § 16.10 Holding Horses Before Start.—Horses may be held on the backstretch not to exceed 2 minutes awaiting post time except when delayed by an emergency.. 

20.  Exciting camera angles like they have in France.  Gosh, if there is anything less exciting in sports presentation-wise than horse racing, I would like to know it.  How about some camera angles from the inside of the track and close ups of horses in the turns.  Make the presentation of the race like the bettor is actually in it.

21.  Free Wi-Fi.  Block the wagering sites except your own if you wish, but maybe I want to be able to check on things at the other tracks.

22.  In the future, should any more tracks get alternate gaming, have racing and/or gaming commissions require permit holders to upgrade the racing-side of the facilities and not just backstretch improvements.  No, I don't expect each track to make the grandstand look as luxurious as the casino part of the facility but just the same, some amount of upgrading of the grandstand is reasonable.  I'm sick and tired of walking through some beautiful casino into a grandstand that looks like Newark, NJ after the race riots.  Remember, you sold alternative gaming as a way to save horse racing so asking you to do something more than applying a fresh coat of paint is not unreasonable.