Friday, May 30, 2014
Whales Disproportionately Dictate Betting Policy
LOS ANGELES, CA, May 29, 2014—Recreational bettors and industry management were both taught an important lesson last Sunday when a smart, well-heeled horseplayer boosted the entire Gulfstream Rainbow Six pool of $6,678,939 while other whales were simply watching and waiting.
Dan Borislow, previously on racing fan radar as the owner of Toccet, told the Daily Racing Form 'he spent $15,206.40 to win the jackpot. He fashioned two nearly identical tickets using the "all" button in five of the Rainbow Six races. He played four horses in the sixth race, two on each ticket, …' costing $7,603.20 apiece for a payoff exceeding 438-1.
Luck was also on his side, however, as despite having the last race covered, his unique-ticket winner barely beat a carryover-preserving 2nd place finisher by a nostril.
Borislow also provided several noteworthy revelations:
"I've probably played the Rainbow Six about six or seven times over the past several months ..."
"I handicapped the races and liked one race in particular, the sixth. When I made out the original ticket, it cost $3,600. So instead of playing a regular ticket, I just decided to take an all in the five other races."
"I’ve probably been one of the bigger horse bettors in the country over the last 15 years."
"I guess if you work at something long enough, eventually you should get it right."
Inferring from the above that seven prior "regular" plays hadn't hit to the cumulative tune of $25,000, elevating his play by a factor of five for the last chance prior to a mandatory payout actually makes a lot of sense for someone playing with monopoly money. I wonder how long it will take Borislow to churn those multiple millions?
What is assumed but hasn't been revealed is whether a portion of those bets were being returned as rebates, which could have amounted to about $4,000 from all that action from subsidized bettors. What should be clear now, though, is that – with rare exceptions – this wager is simply a funnel for transferring funds from the pockets of small bankroll bettors into those with comparatively huge bankrolls.
A truly equitable People's Pick Six might have a 10-20 cent minimum, no consolations, and a seeded jackpot to start. Takeout should be low enough to preclude rebating. Management might consider a mandatory payout the first Saturday after the jackpot reaches $1,000,000.
What surprised me were all the negative comments that followed the announcement of this one-man betting coup. It takes one hell of a handicapper to accurately predict chaos and it takes one hell of a horseplayer to manage it once identified. Players like Borislow have the wherewithal to do it all on their own; most need partners.
The industry is missing the boat by not enabling partnerships outside the "Players Pool" that can distribute tax liability to individuals based on their specific contribution to the total wager. This is another way to level the playing field for small bankroll bettors while reaping the benefit of the resulting higher collective handle.
Does anybody think Borislow is any less deserving of accolades than the ultimate little guy, Graham Stone, who had the lone winning combination for the 2003 Breeders' Cup Ultra Pick Sixwith an $8 ticket?
Coming on the heels of the "Fix Six" scandal of 2002, Stone was forced to undergo vetting by Breeders’ Cup to establish the legitimacy of his play (and perhaps prove he wasn't a time traveler). Stone played the three Richard Mandella-trained winners, with a horse ridden by Jerry Bailey, with a pick by Andy Beyer, and a selection of his own.
I can't knock any strategy that utilizes knowledge of the game -- especially one proven to have worked -- but I suspect very few others could apply it successfully. If Gulfstream doesn't make some changes, however, Borislow clones will be cropping up with regularity.
That would be good for Gulfstream, a track that purports to be customer friendly but, like any American track, or corporation for that matter, is a slave to the bottom line. As such, it’s unreasonable to expect them to alienate their whales for the benefit of rank and file bettors.
I’ve noticed several comments that perhaps Gulfstream management should have funded two plays with all combinations on each of the final days leading up to the mandatory payout in order to guarantee it wouldn't be hit ahead of time.
Also, some opined that Borislow's score was proof of management's integrity, but how could we know whether or not such fraudulent pool manipulation did occur?
Greater transparency in this regard should augment earlier reforms driven by the Rainbow Six. Ideally, all states should uniformly outlaw such practice with very serious consequences for offenders.
It wouldn't surprise me if the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau is already vetting cashers of tickets using "ALL" in more than three legs in order to discourage money laundering. If so, they should also be checking possible jackpot payout avoidance.
I am not among those for whom the missed opportunity for attacking the long-awaited mandatory payout left a bad taste. As far as I'm concerned, Borislaw performed a public service in exposing yet another weakness in a wager that some thought had the potential to create a holiday on which the action world would focus its gaze on horse racing.