Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Another Inconvenient Truth
Five-O. Fifty Percent. That's the take on lottery tickets, but they still sell like hotcakes. Whether it be Pick-3, Pick-4 or Lotto with a big carryover, state governments handle big money every day (and some places, twice a day). Even with a take that would make horseplayers blush, the lottery does a great business. Why? First of all, it panders to the modern American mindset that requires virtually no thinking. Secondly, it sometimes offers prizes that even the Sultan of Brunei wouldn't sneeze at. But most importantly, it can be played almost anywhere at any time. In New York City, you never have to go more than a block or two to get a bet down at your favorite bodega or newsstand.
In order to prosper, horseracing has many issues that need to be resolved. You've all heard me rant about takeout rates but, today, I'm going to talk about convenience - or rather, inconvenience. In business school, we learn that having a good "distribution network" is crucial to sell a product effectively. Coca-Cola and Marlboro have superior distribution networks. Horseracing doesn't. But it should, given that you can't drink a Coke or smoke a Marlboro over the internet.
Byzantine simulcast rules and regulations, Patriot Act invasions of privacy and right-wing fundamentalist anti-gambling zealots have coalesced to make betting on horses a frustrating experience that alienates many players. Magna, Churchill, NYRA One Account, You Bet, Xpressbet, Tracknet, Brisbet, Winticket,
New York City OTB, and on and on. Often, a player has to open accounts at multiple wagering platforms to get all the action he or she wants. One outfit doesn't carry this signal and another place doesn't take that one. What a joke! The game is struggling to attract business and these morons make it tough to get a bet down. Can you imagine Caesar's Palace saying they don't deal blackjack? The casinos offer one-stop shopping and have perfected a way to "take your money and make you feel good about it". Racing could do the same but, until the powers that be realize that the "customer comes first", it will be remain a second-tier gambling (yeah, it's gambling) option.
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