Cary Fotias

Cary Fotias is the Founder and President of Equiform, a New York City firm that produces The XTRAS and The SHORTS, handicapping products for evaluating current condition and form cycles. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed handicapping book, Blinkers Off, which describes an innovative numerical approach to form-cycle analysis.

After spending eight years as a currency trader on Wall Street, Fotias has spent the last 16 years as professional handicapper. He is a member of the NTRA Players Panel and was chosen to give a presentation to the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of New York Racing on behalf of New York horseplayers.

Fotias is a vocal proponent of lower takeouts. He also has a strong interest in the cutting-edge concept of betting exchanges and how they might be developed in the U.S. He feels the game would prosper if it would only adapt to the economic and technological realities of the information age.

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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.


Written by Cary Fotias


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