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  • #31

    There are close to 700 members and those members will post from time to time. Sometimes they do not like an idea, sometimes they do. Some have their own ideas. But please be careful labeling anything you read on the Internet as "HANA's idea" when one member advocates it. If a HANA member posts that the moon is made of green cheese it does not mean that HANA believes that.

    This idea of Mike's has received about 85/15 support in the way he laid it out, very similar to the ratio on this board. To get 85% of horseplayers to agree on something other than that a 1-9 shot will show is pretty good. So far the idea seems workable and interest is there. We'll see what happens from here. But please disregard any tangential things on the net from one person stating his/her opinion.

    We like opinion, anyway. Racetracks have been accused of not letting the customer be heard. If a horseplayer group's Board of Directors starts trying to shut up members who might disagree with them, we are no better than the racetracks. Let me reiterate, this was one members post, and in no way does HANA support, or will support giving money to a thoroughbred charity and saying it could have been used for handle in some sort of PR stunt instead of Mike's idea. We are 100% working on Mike's idea.

    Last edited by ; 9 March 2009, 11:17.04 AM.


    • #32
      Good to see you on this side of the tracks Dean; donít be a stranger and thanks for all your efforts.
      Dan G
      "I don't look to jump over 7-foot bars: I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over." ~ Warren Buffett


      • #33
        Originally posted by DanG View Post
        Good to see you on this side of the tracks Dean; donít be a stranger and thanks for all your efforts.
        I have been a lurker here for awhile, thanks to mainly you doing all those wacky printouts using this HTR stuff. You are going to make me do this demo, and I blame you in advance for making me work on a new program another X hours a day

        Seriously, I love some of the data stuff you post and it is always super-interesting.

        Thanks for the support, too. We're trying.


        • #34
          I want to echo what Dean has said about everyones opinion. At the bottom of my original letter dated March 1, I asked for feedback and opinions, knowing full well that there would by many, both pro and con. They are all certainly welcome. That is what makes this great game such that it is. We can all have a different opinion about each and every race we look at. However, I think each and everyone of us (who play this game at any level) can agree that the sport of horse racing is loosing the fans it has and certainly not attracting many new ones. I believe we can also agree that most everything involving our sport (at least as of late) has been very negative. No matter what topic (about it) we choose to discuss. We also know, (by using simple math) that no two or more negatives will EVER result in a positive.

          That is why I chose to take the approach that I did and keep this in a positive tone. Is it a quick fix? Absolutely NOT. Will it take time for this plan to work? Absolutely YES.

          Hopefully we can all agree that adding another negative to the many that are already in place will certainly not make things any better.

          Individually, none of us have a voice. We can only vent to each other and perhaps someone we know (in management) at a certain track. But what does it really get us. NOTHING. However, as a large group, we can have a voice and with a little time, hopefully a VERY LARGE ONE. At that point, we can begin to address the many issues that we all fight everyday in this game. As a large group, we can then lobby for the changes that we all want, and be in a position (as customers) to be heard, loud and clear.

          I am only asking that each of you give this thing a chance to work. Whether you bet big or small, every day or only occasionally, it does not matter. We as HORSEPLAYERS and CUSTOMERS, are all in the same sinking boat. In the end, we are the only ones that can right this ship. Any participation is greatly appreciated.


          Mike Mayo
          Last edited by Mayo; 9 March 2009, 01:07.17 PM.


          • #35

            AMEN !


            • #36
              Originally posted by Mayo View Post
              Individually, none of us have a voice. We can only vent to each other and perhaps someone we know (in management) at a certain track. But what does it really get us. NOTHING. However, as a large group, we can have a voice and with a little time, hopefully a VERY LARGE ONE. At that point, we can begin to address the many issues that we all fight everyday in this game. As a large group, we can then lobby for the changes that we all want, and be in a position (as customers) to be heard, loud and clear.
              Just a quick story on this, where I agree 100% that having a group that is doing it together is important: Recently I was on a wagering action panel here in Canada as a player (with tracks, horseman, bettors etc). One of the items that was to be discussed was what to do with uncashed ticket money. The regulator said "get together and decide what to do as we are open to anything." During the conference a few came up with the idea of taking all the uncashed money and seeding a national pick 6. It might have been a $1,000,000 seeded pool which would generate huge interest, and actually give the player back some money. One group loved it, virtually everyone loved it and at the end of the conference the thought was it was going to happen.

              A month later when it came time to get it done, there was a meeting where only the regulator, the tracks and the horsemen were invited. During the meeting the idea was shelved and the tracks and the horseman group took all the money for themselves.

              In 2009 or 2010 we do not want to see this ever happen again. If they have a meeting like this horseplayers need to be invited to the table. And they need to hold feet to the fire. It has to stop, and I think Mike's idea to get some like minded people together, say enough is enough, and try to grow and be a force is exactly what we need to be invited to the table. It is what we have advocated from day one with the HANA group.

              Just my opinion, but I know I have had enough and I would love if people climb aboard to help force change in a proactive way. We don't have to agree on all of the details, but if we agree on the broader vision, things can get done.



              • #37
                Interesting story Dean about the leftover money distribution - not surprised at the outcome.

                The same short-sighted decision making had occured in California regarding rebates. Instead of giving the players back a percentage or two, the horseman's position was essentially - "give us that money - screw the players, we need it more than they do". Was there no voice of reason to suggest that goodwill incentives can go a long way toward increasing business and everyone gains in the long run when customers are happy.

                No need for an organized boycott. The natural boycott has been occurring for a decade or longer, people losing interest and finding other forms of gambling or entertainment. And why shouldn't they if they are ignored, over taxed, and treated with disdain by this industry.


                • #38
                  Typically, uncashed tickets are by law, a source of state income.

                  see item #3 on the following page:


                  This is not unique to Texas either, the above is just an example.


                  • #39
                    A few years ago, a good friend of mine from Ky sent a lengthy letter to the one of the Lexington newpapers (Courier Journal I think), explaining his idea of utilizing breakage, uncashed ticket monies and suggested that these left over monies could be used to help the disabled jockeys fund, which was a hot-issue at that point in time. Those receiving his letter supposedly were very interested in his idea, however the concept was not pursued past the initial contacts. Sounded like a noble cause and would have been a wonderful gesture that the tracks could have extended to the disabled jockeys and their families.


                    • #40
                      Personally I commend Mike and Ross on the idea. Although the past few months it has been almost impossible to look at anything in the financial arena as positive for me, I do believe the positive approach is the way to go. I guess I am really a person that likes to look for the sunny side of the street. But for those in a position to participate in their suggested plan of target wagering on a specific track and race I do think this would bring a positive notice from a track - especially if smaller tracks are initially targeted. There is NOT one track that does not zero in on handle each day they operate. Just from the stand point of contests, look what more tracks are doing - Live money tourneys to get more $$ thru windows. My suggestions is particular race is identified and players play any amount/wager they are comfortable with. We constantly see HTR names on contest leaderboards not always the same. Also in these same contest we have HTR players that do not make the leaderboard - may in fact be at the bottom of the list. We do not always make the same picks but we have the same goal - we want a winner. We want to be winners by being invited to the table of decisions re horse racing.

                      At the Dec. LA State Racing Commission meeting among the agenda items was a representative of jockeys to present changes they wanted, the President of the state HBPA with HBPA concerns, as well as a representative of every track management in LA. There was NO voice for the horseplayer. Although the racing industry is a multimillion dollar industry it would not be around without the horseplayer. We need to start somewhere as a group. The first steps may involve a few stumbles but we will never know until we take the first steps. This is not mandatory participation and certainly I do respect anyone that has an opinion that I may not share completely but I do think this is one of the first "grass roots" effort to bring horseplayers together to get on the same page to be noticed and respected. I would welcome the idea of emailing 4 or 5 horseplayer friends and asking them to make a wager on a particular race. (It is amazing how the internet has been a fire storm for communication) Hopefully this would involve many more players than HTR but I would love to see some of our members give brief analysis of identified races posted. I view handicapping an on going learning process and welcome hearing other handicappers view of races. To Mike or who ever is responsible in identifying a target race I think varying the races, claiming, sprints, routes, turf, dirt, maiden would give us a variety that would get to everyones handicapping strengths. I do feel the more well known better races would not be races to choose as for the most part you have larger pools naturally. Whatever decision is made I want to be included in adding to giving the horseplayer a stronger voice.



                      • #41

                        Excellent post!

                        I posted a notice about Mike and Ross's idea blog post on PA and immediately got a post from a person who was very negative, saying that has been tried, didn't work (Procott) and went on to say that the ONLY thing that will work is a boycott.

                        I totally disagree with the negative approach! I, too, try to live my life from the positive side of the fence. And, you know what, I truly believe POSITIVE people are in the majority. There are always going to be the negative persons who only can see one approach to solving a problem. But, I believe that a positive approach will be noticed in a positive light.

                        Bob G
                        Bob G


                        • #42
                          Could one of the supporters of the procott answer a few questions?

                          First, what is the first issue that will be addressed with the procott?

                          Second, how will that issue be addressed once a sufficient number of horseplayers are on board with the procott? Take drug testing for example. Lets say that issue is chosen as the first issue to be addressed. What is the objective - is it along the lines of what CD has implemented for their spring meet? Or are we not happy unless reporting of the results also occurs so that we know which trainers have been caught with their hands in the drug jar? Do we also want owners penalized? How do we know that the positive procott is not working and the time has come to move from the positive procott approach to a negative boycott approach to make our voices heard?

                          Third, who makes the decisions regarding the questions that I raised in the preceding question as well as determining the direction of things as other myriad issues arise as this thing goes forward?

                          (I thought I would edit this post to make sure that folks realize that these questions are in no way intended to be negative in tone. Rather, they are simply innocent questions that a potential participant would like to have answered before committing to this movement.)
                          Last edited by dehere; 10 March 2009, 10:00.05 AM.


                          • #43
                            Hi dehere,

                            I don't know about this idea of Mikes and what he thinks/envisions, but as a HANA person I can tell you our method of op with these things.

                            We were incorporated in September of 2008 on the foundation of our mission statement. This statement had several key issues we wanted addressed, like takeouts, rebates, ADW access, drugs in racing etc. We did not know what to tackle first, but for the first bit we looked at growing membership, and then if one of our issues popped up we would offer a point of view from the horseplayers at HANA. We did this with the ADW issue in California for example. When the TOC and tracks were fighting Jeff got on the phone with Liebau, Couto and others, we issued a press release and so on. Because we did not have a big enough membership or could mobilize them properly at that time, we simply wanted to let racing know we were there, and we were watching. Racing knew it, because we were a part of it.

                            We do things in an ad hoc way at this early stage. For example, one thing we have been doing due diligence on is uniform reporting of payouts and probables. We have been in contact with some and think it is doable (full disclosure; although we have long thought about the idea and getting it done, a horseplayer guest article in Horseplayer Mag got us really thinking).

                            So in a phrase, we know what we want to do, however we have to do due diligence on something to make sure it can be done and is not improbable, we have to make sure horseplayers are behind it, and we have to set the table and work on getting it done with industry contacts who are sympathetic to horseplayers. We have been building on this since day one, recruiting membership, blogging, sending out Press releases and so on. I think it is a good way to go about things. Asking for the improbable, undoable, or screaming about something without an audience or support is a futile pursuit (imo).

                            Just our opine on things.



                            • #44
                              Good Questions Henry.

                              Obviously there are many areas in this sport that need to be addressed. Some items can be done at the track management level while others involve State governments. My thinking was we probably form a committee from our group and come up with a list of items and concerns in order of importance. We would first target the areas that could have the biggest impact on the Horseplayers. My first thinking would obviously be TAKEOUT. Track management has the right to lower takeout below the state maximums any time they want. That is were perhaps a small boycott (for those who like that idea) could come into play. We simply ask track management to lower takeouts on certain wagers. If they refuse, we as a group as well as members individually, could then choose to NOT bet that track until something is done. I personnally do not bet Maryland Pk3 or Pk4s for that very reason. Track management just raised the takeout from 14 to 25% on these wagers effective March 1
                              I used to bet them, not now.

                              Many other things require changes by State racing commissions. Best case would be to have a member/members from our group to attend racing commission meetings in the various states and voice our concerns about issues such as medications, reporting of equipment changes (front bandages) etc. This is obviously where we would enter into the political arena and we could certainly use members of our group who have some influence in their respective States. Our group block of money would obviously come from our members all across the country. However, when we as a group or as individuals make a wager at a certain track, our money goes into that State's coffers. If we are big enough as a group, the track and that State will certainly feel it in the form of lost revenue. We now have a voice in the political arena and should be able to use that voice to bring about some of the changes we want.

                              I also like the idea of targeting Owners and Trainers who continually are involved in excess drugging of horses. They need to be run out of the sport and perhaps subject to criminal prosecution. This is another area we could target to propose change. We could certainly find support for this from many different groups.

                              As I have previously stated, ALL of this will take time, but much of this can be done. Hope this helps



                              • #45
                                I would think that as a group we would attempt to limit the types of changes we push for to those that (at least in theory) have a more immediate, direct cause/effect relationship. While I certainly agree that drug testing or lack thereof has an effect on mutuel handle through lack of bettor confidence, I don't think that the correlation is quite obvious or direct enough to be readily understood and quantified by the larger groups we are trying to send a message to.

                                Again, I'm not arguing that drug testing does not affect handle, I just think that the relationship between that facet of the industry and handle is a bit more difficult to objectively link the end results of our efforts to. If we limit our issues to aspects that are more obviously and intuitively directly related to betting and handle (breakage, takeout, rebates, wagering options etc.) then we give ourselves a much greater chance of being effective in our initial effort(s) (since the turnaround time for getting these types of changes in place would be much quicker). An action item directly related to wagering that could potentially result in a "quick win" would be an important consideration, and would likely bolster our membership ranks. If we seek to effect broader change too early in the groupís existence, then I would think the protracted nature of such an effort would result in a fair amount of attrition within our ranks.

                                Of course, there would be an incredible irony if we chose to make lower takeout rates an action item.

                                As a group, we (label us "Serious Horseplayers who Beat the Takeout", abbv SHBT) make up somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15% of all people who wager on horse racing. Said effort would be somewhat ironic in that by becoming more skilled, SHBT has done more to raise the effective takeout on the other 85% of players than the vast majority of racetracks have ever thought of doing. So, SHBT now asks the racetracks to lower the takeout, fully understanding that if Desperation Downs drops their takeout 4% from 18% to 14% the handle will have to increase 23% for DD to get back to square one and break even.

                                So we all jump into the pool and knock heads with each other in a collective effort to keep the DD boat afloat and prove that lower takeout does indeed result in sufficiently higher handle to make the effort worthwhile. Let's take it a month or two down the road, and assume that as a group SHBT is truly committed and we all stay in that pool together, taking our lumps in the form of individual financial losses, in the hopes that the bigger tracks will notice and eventually follow suit. Besides, part of the SHBT strategy is the theory that lower takeout will eventually attract the casual bettor also, and eventually this pool we are all in together will get a little less salty. But the casual fan never comes to the pool because our presence insures that the benefits of the lower takeout never finds it's way into the casual player's hands.

                                This is what makes this particular game, and fixing it such a tough endeavor. While we all complain about the tracks, the industry and the unbelievably myopic, self-serving stances each facet takes, we as SHBT, to a great extent do the same thing.

                                Horse Racing is a pari-mutuel (among ourselves) game of skill.

                                It is not a pari-mutuel game of random outcomes.

                                It is not a non-pari-mutuel game of skill.

                                If either of the latter two definitions were accurate, the fixes would be much easier, and the theoretical effects of lowering takeout would play out as they did in their test environments.

                                Lowering takeout can potentially grow the game, but not as a single action.

                                The truth is that while we (SHBT) have labeled ourselves as the lifeblood of the game, we are far from it. We are fully dependent on the presence and continuing participation of the player who loses (far) more than the legislated pari-mutuel take.

                                However, we are the most powerful single active entity within the entire industry. Unfortunately, labeling ourselves as and acting as if we are the actual lifeblood of this industry has been a severe impediment to our effectiveness. Whether it be rebates, tournaments, the NHC Tour or any other issue/action item that has been the brainchild of SHBT as a group, the end result has been to provide our own demographic with an additional, exploitable advantage over those who do not beat the takeout. In short, we are every bit as myopic and self-serving as the industry we continually chastise.

                                How does this relate back to the growth potential I mentioned 3 paragraphs above, and to the irony I alluded to a verbose eon ago?

                                The potential effectiveness of lowering the take as an "economic stimulus" of sorts is directly related to the degree to which we (SHBT) do NOT take advantage of it. SHBT as a group literally has the power to reduce a 4% reduction in legislated takeout to a less than a 1% effective takeout reduction by the time it trickles down to the (by definition) average horseplayer if we were to fully leverage it. The sinister part is that if you factor betting-level rebates into the equation, a legislated takeout reduction could actually manifest itself as an effective takeout increase by the time it trickled down to the average horseplayer.

                                It's both encouraging and daunting to think of how much power SHBT actually has within this industry when one looks at the results we can effect by not acting, or acting with great restraint. The casual fan is still the most powerful force in the industry, and as alluded to above by KM, they have been reacting quietly for the better part of 20 years and the affect has been profound.

                                It's scary to think just how powerful an entity there could be if we were to combine the pro-activeness of SHBT with the quiet reactivity of the much larger group. SHBT needs to acknowledge their complete reliance on the much larger group and stop labeling ourselves as the "lifeblood". When our combined reactions to the changes we are looking for reflect this reliance, then we can actually begin to rationalize that our proposed changes are of benefit to the industry as a whole.

                                Until then I'd have to say that the industry has us profiled pretty accurately, and their lack of acknowledgement concerning our requests is an appropriate response. After all, isn't it at least in part a reflection of what we do to the tier below us?