Racing Rebound Requires Resolve


Racing Rebound Requires Resolve

The horse industry, broadly defined,  faces incredible current and future challenges as non-pari mutuel gaming expands to satisfy government budget woes and relentless spending, legislators increasingly oppose supporting the horse industry, North American horse racing popularity and handle decline and the industry’s behavior signals that it is its’ own worst enemy. Yet, in some countries throughout the world horse racing has retained its glamour and popularity and “punters” continue to play at an increasing pace. In some countries horse racing is a major league sport worthy of respect, investment and patrons’ entertainment expenditures.

North American horse industry participants and investors must conduct objective and thorough assessment of their business, consumer behavior and financial models. The industry must examine itself without bias and demonstrate willingness to learn from others and embrace change. The industry must mobilize its resources and cease endless infighting and special interest positions that oppose change and send a negative message to customers and governmental entities.

Some of the elements of the assessment process are listed below”

1.       Administrative authority and control (what can work, what does not)

2.       Scope of product/service offering

·         Wagering options that attract legacy pari-mutuel patrons as well as new patrons attracted to lottery type structure with high potential payouts and which require no or limited handicapping effort and skill and which provide a level competitive playing field

·         Live race dates and tracks needed to showcase the product (extended race meets or not)

·         Domestic simulcasting (inbound, outbound)

·         Foreign simulcasting (inbound, outbound)

·         Account wagering

·         Non pari-mutuel gaming (complementary or not)

·         Technology – kiosk wagering, hand-held devices  and other advancements on track

·         Non-wagering services and entertainment

·         Required level of customer service on and off track

·         Utilization of media technology to create awareness, educate, communicate and deliver services

3.       Competition from racing, gaming and other alternatives on-premises and on-line

4.       Customer education (definition, scope, delivery mechanisms)

5.       Patron services, promotion and media coverage to generate positive response and glamour

6.       Race classification and entry systems (conditioned, claiming, age and earnings graded, state owned and bred limitations, race secretary performance standards, measurements and authority)

7.       Race conduct (performance enhancement medications, equipment enhancements such as trotting hopples, whipping, geldings, catch drivers, competition)

8.       Product variations (distance, starting methods, direction, handicapping, post positions, turf vs. dirt, monte)

Industry leaders must emerge with realization that they are operating in a new, more competitive landscape with real changes in marketplace, technological and governmental dynamics. The pace of those changes is accelerating. While each organization may ultimately select its own path there are business imperatives that every entity must agree upon and embrace fully with their actions and financial resources. To do otherwise says “leave the keys on the table, turn out the lights on the way out and join the unemployment line.”


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