We have read, as you too surely, reports of positive trends in handle from some tracks during the pandemic. We have read pleas for coverage of positive stories associated with the sport, a natural reaction in a world that doles out negativity aplenty.
This TIF update is our attempt to enlighten readers to the nature of the horse race wagering landscape. Many people involved in horse racing — from owners and breeders to trainers and jockeys, farriers, farm workers and managers, veterinarians, backstretch workers and suppliers pay no attention to what is happening on the gambling side of the business.
While gambling is a major source of their funding, via prize money, many do not make the connection between betting and their livelihoods. But developments on the wagering side of the business have the potential to be detrimental to stakeholders over the long term and they should know what is happening, and what one can infer is happening from behavior in some pools.
This report serves as a request to be aware of the realities facing the sport, while questioning long-accepted business practices which have resulted in the perpetual disadvantaging of some customers. There are long-term effects of these actions, and they will yield pain to the greater racing business if action is not taken to correct course. It offered tremendous insight and recommendations to avoid the very situation we find ourselves in today.
The impact 16 years later is more pronounced. One key recommendation in the WSTF Report was accepted — the vertical integration of the levers of business by major racing entities encompassing tracks and associated technology companies to process and accept online bets , but two other recommendations were wholeheartedly ignored.
This has led to our highly problematic, unbalanced status quo. As major players in the process, representative groups of horsepeople, like track and state HBPAs and THAs, should be asking some fundamental questions, to which they are entitled the answers as contractual approvers of wagering deals. If the groups understood this state of affairs, and knew the answers to these questions, we believe they would find that, for many tracks, an ever-increasing percentage of handle is coming from high-volume betting shops HVBS , a group that in the past has been referred to as SPMOs — secondary pari-mutuel organizations — a concentrated subset of account wagering entities, available only to a select number of incredibly well-resourced players.
This is an incredibly important point to understand, one which is belied by economic theory, and was explained in great detail in the WSTF report. We will explain more later. This is not straightforward, and if you do not normally understand these topics, it is helpful to add some definitions to assist in your review of this report.
In nominal terms, there are still more recreational players than any other segment. Many of these middle and upper-market players are using technology to assist them in bet placing and are receiving rebates on their play, which reduced their effective takeout. There are variances within each of these segments, so the ranges are not fully exhaustive of the type of play of each customer group.
Some question, understandably, whether or not these groups can see information on how non-HVBS players are betting, and adjust their own bets, which can be entered direct to pools without use of a traditional ADW. A high-profile leak of insider information rocked the daily fantasy sports world in While these suppositions may emanate from a segment of incredibly frustrated customers, their concerns are undoubtedly a product of substandard technology in a vertically integrated wagering industry.
These concerns must be treated seriously AND investigated. While we have linked to its executive summary in the past, the full report offers striking detail on how HVBS betting impacted tracks, purses and ordinary horseplayers… 16 years ago. The report is dense in parts, but incredibly informative, and we suggest you take the time to go through it if the future of horse racing in America matters to you. IRS regulations are unverified.
High-volume betting shops as we discuss them in this paper do differ in several ways, but the above definition serves as a baseline for understanding where the industry once was in considering their place in the sport. The only trait these entities share with players from HVBS is that they are betting on the same races. Everything else is different. HVBS players are, essentially, profit maximization machines.
These customers do not bet big for the sake of betting big or to impress anyone. These entities bet big because that is what the math dictates. This is Wall Street meeting horse racing. They are the most efficient operators in a sport that is notoriously replete with inefficient market behavior.
In racing, it has brought a redistribution of wealth away from the vast majority of horseplayers and horse owners, and into the hands of some select racetrack corporations and their technological arms. The requirements related to the licensing, according to the Model Rules of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, are more detailed than traditional ADWs.
Their handle represented more than half of all money bet via account wagering and would have been eight percent of all racing handle in America. One year earlier, in , they were reported to be more than three percent of all handle. Going forward, this report will only refer to these outlets as high-volume betting shops, or HVBS.
Some private estimates shared with the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation suggest current HVBS participation in racing wagering could be between 30 to 35 percent. Others believe it is smaller, but approaching that. Publicly, there are no such confirmations. HVBS customers have extraordinarily high rates of winning — and that presents a problem if growth in the recreational and middle-market is important to the greater industry.
This is before the impact of any rebate is accounted, but according to the definition previously cited, is at least five percent, but likely higher. While the blended takeout rate on all bets at the track may be reported as 20 percent, TVG customers would have paid an effective takeout of 50 percent in this hypothetical.
HVBS players are winning, at high rates, and totally self-interested, as they should be. Make no mistake — every game has winners and losers, and some players are better than others. There is nothing wrong with being a successful bettor. HVBS emerged because takeout rates were on the rise, a phenomenon lamented even by former Jockey Club Chairman Ogden Phipps in the s when discussing his desire to lower takeout as Chairman of the New York Racing Association following several positive experiments with it.
Attempts to reduce takeout, again mostly led by NYRA, were thwarted over the years. Rebating became a way to circumvent destructively high takeout rates. The disparity between HVBS customers and all others has grown in the last 16 years, but again, specific details never seem to be forthcoming from tracks or understood by the groups representing horsepeople. We are left to estimate market size.
A situation where one segment of customers are winning at incredibly high rates and another losing at incredibly high rates has a long-term, destructive effect on the losers — notably, they stop playing. Racing both wants and needs the handle from all players, but the actions of the business-side of the sport, in concert with the general ignorance from the representative groups of horsepeople and major industry organizations, has contributed to the decline of non -high-volume players.
On relative terms, the recreational customer is the most valuable customer to purses, but as we project later, their disappearance as a percentage of total annual handle is monumental in number. Now, if you are thinking HVBS should be cut off, or rebates cut back, think again. Remember, these are profit maximization machines. The situation, as it exists, seems lose-lose for the greater industry. The impact of all this rebating is also felt throughout the industry as it relates to the slice of takeout which goes to funding purses, presenting a more macro-threat to the greater sustainability of the sport.
As quoted below, it is a stark assessment considering HVBS play has grown substantially since its publishing while, not surprisingly, all other play has declined. First, the distinct gap in overall support of live racing is a key component — and probably the key component — of rebates made available by the advantaged entities to high volume bettors. Second, the growing and resulting shift in handle toward these entities necessarily reduces track revenues and purses relative to aggregate handle.
There are signs present in some pools in American racing today that even more advantageous deals have been cut with HVBS to increase their participation, which should benefit them likely at the additional expense of non-HVBS horseplayers. While the specifics are unclear, the California pick six examples of late reflect the imbalance, at least as it relates to impacting the betting pools.
It is notable that Elite was reported to have been owned, wholly or in part, by The Stronach Group, according to a court document. Tracks routinely market certain pools with the possibility of life-changing scores, but when a single-ticket jackpot is in the mix — a bet where the jackpot is paid with only one winning combination — the likelihood of it going to a recreational or even middle-market player is incredibly slim. This is NOT about shutting these entities down.
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Download now to get access to the tips and also to see our full history. This is a brand new app as after years of just posting via social media we decided to make it a proper business and so have created a super easy to use platform allowing you to place winning tips Whether you are a punter looking for some fun, a serious profit seeking individual or a tipster with a client base you want to provide quality service, Billion Betting Club is your solution.
Billion Betting Club facilitates betting via bookmakers who operate in regulated markets only, as defined by our licensed betting partners. Billion Betting Club do not accept wagers directly.
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