The parimutuel system has undergone several changes in the 84 years since it was adopted at U.S. racetracks, allowing new bet types, accepting wagers from far-flung locations and in different currencies, and calculating prices when takeout rates have differed between jurisdictions. But the basic math has remained the same: Minus the takeout, winning bettors in one bet-type pool get all the money from the losing bettors in the same pool.
Said another racing official, who asked not to be identified, “We’ve got enough stuff to worry about right now without making it all more complicated.”
I have to agree with this sentiment.
Unless this single-pool wagering approach offers nearly transparent improvement – that is, no noticeable downside to the serious horse handicapping player – I think it will be the final straw for many older players. These older players are the backbone of the country’s race track handle and the industry cannot afford to lose them.
Have any of my readers been part of a focus group looking into this? My bet is “not.”
I guess what I am saying is, to just think about YOUR OWN reaction to this… If you usually wager Monmouth, your reaction is probably something akin to, “Guess I’ll stop wagering Monmouth for until I see how this works out.”
When will the industry learn that the smartest thing they could do is to show this to a few hundred players and convince them that this was a good idea before going public? Then, those few hundred could communicate with other players that there was “nothing to fear” in the changes. That communication would take place on forums like PaceAdvantage.com.
As usual, the horse handicapping industry has shown that the players’ opinion simply does not matter in any decision they make, even though it has serious impact upon the player.
I further suggest that the real goal of this single-pool wagering plan is to obfuscate the impact of the very large bettor upon the small bettor. Now, this is a good thing for the horse handicapping novice – it will give them peace of mind. However, if I am wagering on an exacta and the price goes down because someone else wagered big money in the win pool… well, that is a disconnect for me.
I fear that there is an assumption that ALL players are unsophisticated and simply will not be sharp enough to see a difference. Many of us – under the current system – have models with a high degree of sophistication. This high level of sophistication is communicated to players with lower sophistication levels through explanatory reports, seminars, and commentaries (again, on forums like PA).
In other words, one way or another, the more sophisticated horse handicapping players help the less-sophisticated. If you think about it, you will see this is true.
My true fear is that the only entities that will have the resources to truly understand this new single-pool wagering payoff distribution model (which is what it really is), will be the player at the very highest level – whales!
Think of this – imagine if you could not understand the impact of wagers upon the system. Think about it… YOU cannot understand (therefore cannot measure), but the BIGGEST PLAYERS CAN!
One of the greatest things about OUR horse handicapping game is that it becomes our own little stock market. It truly is a financial market for the little guy. And I mean the very little guy! If you’ve got a couple of hundred bucks, you have an opportunity to manage your own investment fund. Most important, you have historically been on relatively equal footing with even the biggest players in the market. That has changed in recent years with the coming of the whales – and racing has taken some hits from that.
My biggest fear is that our little market will not be able to be understood by anyone but the biggest players – those with the resources to study the market in depth. And make no mistake – those guys are not sharing their findings. There are no horse handicapping whales writing books about how you can do what they did; how you can become a whale.
Even if my fears are totally unfounded, what impact will the perception of this have on horse racing?