The Breeders’ Cup Forum: Barry Meadow and the Horseplayer View

by | 01.26.2011 | 6:11am

In the early 1980s, when I worked days at the Los Angeles office of Daily Racing Form and spent many of my nights playing the harness races at Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos, I was introduced to a serious and studious horseplayer named Barry Meadow (nicknamed Barry Meadow Skipper by a mutual friend in honor of the standardbred great Meadow Skipper). Barry produced his own race charts, took copious notes, and followed betting patterns closely.

Meadow switched over to Thoroughbreds around the time I moved to Kentucky in the late 1980s, and he's been at it ever since, betting on an almost daily basis. He is a prolific writer, authoring his first handicapping book (Success at the Harness Races) in 1967, and he's penned countless books, pamphlets and magazine and online articles on horserace betting, money management, and internet gambling, among other subjects. He's a regular speaker at the annual Handicapping Expo, was a member of the NTRA Players Panel, and serves as an advisor to the Horseplayers Association of North America.


How and when did you first get involved betting on horses?
I started in elementary school, betting nickels with some other kids. We'd pick a horse in each harness race using the entries in the paper, and you'd either pay the other kids or collect depending on how many winners you had. Like if you had four winners and everybody else had three, you'd have beaten them by one, so they'd each pay you one nickel.

As a teenager I was going regularly to Roosevelt and Yonkers, the two big harness tracks in New York; even though I was below the legal betting age, I was shoveling the money through the $50 windows. When I taught tennis in the Catskills, I'd go to nearby Monticello Raceway almost every night. Later, when I moved to California, I started going to Hollywood Park (which had harness racing then) and Los Alamitos. After several years, I switched to the thoroughbreds.

What has kept you in the game through all these years when you have other gambling options like sports betting, card clubs or casinos?
I love horses, and I've always loved the puzzle of figuring out how races would go. I never had much interest in sports betting – I might be the only professional gambler on the planet who's never bet the Super Bowl. Card games such as poker never held much appeal for me, though I have played blackjack extensively.

What do you consider a good rate of return on your wagering investments over the course of a year?

That's a hard question to answer because much of where I've concentrated in recent years has been the betting exchanges, where you're moving a ton of money through – far more than you would at a track, because the takeout is so low. And rebates are a very important part of making serious money at the track these days. Volume is crucial; if a guy has a 10% edge but only bets $40,000 a year, who cares? The idea is to be able to move enough money through so that you can make a decent living.

What are the biggest changes to betting on horses today vs. 30 years ago?
For someone like me, the availability of betting exchanges has been huge. Rebates, too. And convenience — I used to have to travel to the track every day, and now everything is on the phone or the Internet. But there have been negatives too — higher takeouts and smaller field sizes, to name two. There's also a lot more information available; I used to make my own trainer notes, and now anybody who goes to the track once a year has access to similar information.

What to you makes a race an attractive betting proposition?
There must be a discrepancy in the way I see the race vs. the way the public sees the race. If I make a horse 6-5 and the public lets him go at 9-5, there's a discrepancy. If I make him 5-1 and he's 8-1, there's another one. If I hate the favorite and can structure a play against him, that's good. If I understand why the public is betting a horse I don't like — maybe he has a popular jockey, maybe he's just had two lucky trips in a row so his lines look good, etc. — so much the better.

Why does takeout matter to the horseplayer?

Every horse is worth a certain price, and the challenge of handicapping is to figure out what that price should be. If I give a horse a 20% chance to win a race, fair odds would be 4-1. Since I demand a premium, I need 6-1 for that horse. The higher the takeout, the more the prices drop — not only for win, but for all other pools as well — which means I'm going to find fewer opportunities.

Takeout also matters because higher takeout causes players to run out of money faster, even if they're not aware of the takeout. If a group of players bets $100,000 on the first race, by the second race they have only $80,000 left if there's a 20% takeout; if the takeout is 22%, they're down to $78,000 — and after 10 or 100 or 500 races, they are simply ground down faster. This has a spiraling-down-the-drain effect on the handle; fewer dollars bet means that I as a player have to bet less as well. I can't bet the same amount into a Golden Gate daily double as I can into a Saturday win pool at Hollywood Park.

Generally, there are two types of players–those who care very much about the takeout (such as the whales) and those who don't. But a high takeout hurts them both.

If low takeout is important, why do players seem to focus more on the high takeout bets like trifectas rather than low takeout win, place and show bets?
Many players want to hit the home run. There's no bragging that you caught the $5.20 winner. Many players believe that unless you hit something very big like a Pick 6 or a superfecta, you can't win, so they ignore the takeout differences. I don't play as many tris or supers as many other players, though — there's more luck involved, and your bets have more of an influence on the payoffs. I do know some other professionals who love these bets, because there's a lot of “throwaway” tickets wasted by players in an effort to take down that big payoff, and certain races can be beaten by clever structuring (e.g., keying a longshot in third or fourth).

Would you be betting today if you didn't receive rebates?
No, except for betting exchanges. Otherwise, I'm too close to break even to make it worth my time.

Since rebates effectively lower takeout and improve your chances of winning, does it create an unfair advantage over players who don't have the benefit of rebates?
If I play blackjack at $10 a hand and lose $100, I get nothing from the casino — but somebody betting $10,000 a hand who loses $1 million may get $100,000 or $150,000 back in rebates; should I complain to the casino that the big player is getting an advantage unavailable to me, or should I just go ahead and play my game? Life is inherently unfair — on an airplane, one guy might pay $200 for a ticket while the guy in the next seat is paying $600. Some shoppers use coupons, or are members of buying clubs, or get store rewards, while others pay full retail with no givebacks. The guy buying 20,000 pencils gets a lower per-pencil price than the guy who buys two pencils.

This game is tough to beat even with rebates, and the extra volume provided by the rebated players keep everybody's handle up. I'm always hoping that the big computer groups that get bigger rebates than I do hate the horse I like and like the horse I hate.

Ideally, everybody would play against the same takeout, and it would be much, much lower than today's takes.

When you started playing, there were four interests sharing the betting dollar: the player, the track, the horsemen, and the state government. Today, with simulcasting and ADWs, you've still got those original four interests, but we now have the ADW companies or rebaters, the out of state horsemen and tracks where the bet may have been made, the disseminators of the signal. Bottom line: there are more hands pulling money out than ever before, with less going to the tracks and horsemen where a race is run. Is this a sustainable business model, and, if not, how can more revenue flow back to the people putting on the show?

It would take hours to answer this question. In California, the state rebates just about all the money it used to keep as license fees back to the tracks, and still nobody's happy. If you wanted to bet at Del Mar, you had to travel to Del Mar — it was the only store open, but now there are hundreds of places to bet Del Mar.

All the groups you mention have had some hand in the handles going up regularly up till 2003, so they want some share. Remember that the tracks sell their signal, voluntary, to many groups; if Santa Anita wants to allow its patrons to bet on New York races as the fans seem to want, there has to be some compromise in who gets what.

I believe that racinos are just a temporary fix, because at every racino I've been too, horse racing attracts little interest. Sure, some horsemen are making money now, but what happens when state legislators decide that all that slots money should go to health care or education instead of to horsemen? Maybe the racino doesn't need 300 days of racing each year; maybe it will have to make do with 30, or zero. And then what?

These are dark, dark times for racing, and it's only getting darker. I wish I had a simple answer.

Has racing in this country taken full advantage of technology?
The main thing U.S. racing has avoided is the Betfair model, which has proven to be tremendously successful; these guys built a better mousetrap, and it's handled tons of money in the past decade while horse racing here has been sinking. Then there's the late-odds-drop problem, which has been able to fester for years because nobody wants to put the money up to bring the tote technology into the 21st century (although I've read that this is changing). I'm not sure how being able to Twitter or put results on an I-phone is going to help much, because racing cannot sell its polka music to a hip-hop audience no matter how many apps a track might create.

Current betting exchanges return very little to purses and racetracks. Shouldn't we fear that betting exchanges will only make things worse from a revenue standpoint?
Betting exchanges have attracted a much younger audience than traditional racetrackers, and offer many more options for betting; I can play against a horse I don't like, I can get a better price on one I do like, I can bet against three longshots in a race where the three horses I like are all 5-2 or under, I can at times arbitrage, I can play against a horse I think is overbet, etc. I might only like a couple of races at the track, but I probably have some bettable opinion in nearly all of them on an exchange, so my action is going to be much, much greater. And that will be great for overall revenue.

However, at the moment, the exchanges only offer win betting (you can also bet to show at Betfair, though it doesn't presently take U.S. customers), so the exchanges will have zero effect on any of the many other bets being offered at the track. And you have to have a computer with an Internet connection, the time to play, money in your account, etc. So it's not going to be a panacea, particularly if it doesn't attract enough liquidity right from the start.

I agree that the current model (Betfair collects 3-5% of the winner's payoffs, and remits just 10% of that small number to the tracks) is quite insufficient for racetracks to have much interest. But that's just a starting point for negotiations. There are many other scenarios that could work — tracks could run the exchanges themselves, they could charge players 5-8% instead of 3-5%, they could charge market makers at a higher rate, they could have an “excess profits” tax for full-time players, they could demand half the revenue instead of only 10%, etc. It all comes down to some number that everybody can live with.

  • Disappoin Ted/Nom de Plume

    An excellent piece.

  • Eric

    BARRY SAID-If I play blackjack at $10 a hand and lose $100, I get nothing from the casino — but somebody betting $10,000 a hand who loses $1 million may get $100,000 or $150,000 back in rebates; should I complain to the casino that the big player is getting an advantage unavailable to me, or should I just go ahead and play my game?

    Blackjack is a poor comparison as you are competing with the house, whereas in pari-mutuel wagering you a competing against other horseplayers. If one horseplayer’s $2 wager is worth $1.60 (assuming 20% takeout) and a rebated player’s $2 is worth 1.80 (assuming 20% takeout and a 10% volume rebate) you have created a ’tilted playing field’ in favour of the rebated player.

    Life may be inherently unfair, but when you have a game that is unfair, people stop playing it, either by choice or by tapping out!

  • CG

    Eric, I’m not saying that rebates don’t create a non level playing field, but if a gambler in Vegas knows they are getting 10% back for example, they are playing with an advantage as well.
    The rebates don’t directly affect the way the track pays off the bets, just like the blackjack rebate doesn’t affect the immediate pay off at the table.
    By the way, rebates are available to most people today, no matter how much they bet, though big players can get bigger rebates if the shop around. A little more work than cutting out coupons in many cases, but it is still doable.
    Unfortunately some states like Arizona and California force their residents looking to last longer to bet outside the system.
    As long as every jurisdiction has their own laws, betting on horse racing will never be fair.
    Is it fair that in Arizona you can’t even bet at home watching a race on TV? The rest of the country has an advantage of them. So what do we do, make it illegal for all states to allow betting on the internet?
    Is it fair that some horseplayers have devised systems that allow them to bet at half a minute to post based on having a computer scan all the possibilities and probabilities?
    Anyone can do it, if they make it their mission. So I would say it is fair, but it does make it harder for others to win. The same type of programs are used to buy and sell stocks, which makes it “unfair” for those who don’t use these systems.
    All really good handicappers and money managers make it more difficult for the rest to win. I have a problem calling it unfair though.

  • CG

    I meant to add that backstretch knowledge makes things “unfair” too. Trainers and their help know when a horse is feeling good, and know that a horse may not have felt good or been at its peak the races prior.
    And what about trainers who bet and use venoms and other non testable drugs?

  • rwwupl

    In any group of horse players there are going to be different opinions.

    In any gambling,if it is not presenting a level playing field for all, it will fail.

    My message is: This is where horse racing is at now, Stop the favoritism,level the playing field or shut the doors….And read into this message ALL that it implies.

    And now is the time.

    Roger Way

  • Rutgers

    In the games at the casino, such as blackjack, slots, roulette you are betting against the house, not other players. If the casino wants to give you some the money they won (or expected to win) it does not effect me, nor does it effect my odds or ROI.

    But in pari-mutual wagering, you are not betting against the house, you are betting against everybody else in the pools. Because of this if some players get rebates, they can get a higher ROI then others playing the same wagers in the same pools. In fact, people with big rebates bet down the mutual price so much that non-rebated players (or any players with smaller rebates) can not get fair value from the mutuals. But the rebated players get fair value when their rebates are added in.

    Is it fair that the rebated players gets fair value while the non-rebated does not for making the same wagers in the same pools. That is debatable, but how long do you think non or low rebated players are going to keep playing? The game is tough to beat, but it is even tougher when betting against players getting bigger rebates then you. And while life is not fair, horse racing is a game. If you want people to play your game, that game needs to be fair to everybody.

  • rwwupl

    Rutgers: Thank you for your excellent point, and I can only say that a famous man once said “That what is right will always eventually triumph(R.R.)”

    Roger Way

  • Really enjoyed this article because of the respect I have for Barry.

    I wish all tracks would recognize the importance of Money Management in today’s game to keep customers in our sport/game.I’ve advocated a MM phamphlet as a promotional giveaway and have some available at customer service booths for several years now.

    I just think that racetracks have to do more to educate their customers (new/regular) in which there are so many wagering options and various tracks to play.

    I would’ve liked one more question to Barry…..do you think it’s fair to horseplayer’s that some tracks allow robotic wagering? Also, if tracks do allow robotic wagering don’t you think the state Board of Racing has an obligation to inform the public before each meet how many robotic players were allowed into their mutuel pools?

  • CG

    Rutgers, horse racing can never be fair to everyone. If a trainer treats a horse one race and not the other, or puts it in a hyperbolic chamber and then bets it, they are affecting the odds making it harder for everyone to win.
    Also, sports betting is very comparable to horse racing in that even though it is not parimutuel, the line moves based on the betting. A whale can make a big bet early and drive the price of the team he bet up. He can then take a middle and wind up helping drop the line back in the process. The middle is really at all the other bettor’s expense.
    Also, a bettor only has to pay 4% if the team wins on Betfair, but with domestic bookies, they have to pay 10% if the team loses.
    This is unfair too, as Betfair players can seek middles with bookies if they want. But it doesn’t stop billions from being bet on sports domestically one bit.

  • Frank

    First, exchange wagering is legal bookmaking. Bets from exchange wagering DO NOT commingle with the betting pool at the track. The exchange KEEPS what the track takeout is, that is why they can give a rebate. But, the rebates ARE NOT equal to what exchanges keep with respect to track takeout. Exchange betting entities keep what tracks would spend on purses, labor costs, and costs associated with running the track operation in general. The rebates that exchanges give reflect only a fraction of what the exchanges, themselves, make at the expense of the racing industry.
    Tracks could not offer exchange betting because there would be NO WAY to track a mutual pool. Also, if they DID offer exchange wagering, you would, by definition of the business model of racing, once again have take out at the same rates as now. Tracks CANNOT alleviate track operation costs. Exchange betting operations DO NOT have such costs, but use the operational track (with associated costs) as their venue. This is why bookmaking is illegal. Exchange wagering is the “politically correct” terminology for bookmaking.

  • CG

    Frank, for one thing, exchanges do not give rebates. You really should research what you are against.
    Again, the cost of putting on the show is at arms length to the cost of the bet (but again, you are limited because you can’t fathom that for some reason).
    Now, I will agree with Barry that the current model Betfair offers is too low, but if tracks were to split 4%, and if the exchange were to take 6 or 7% of winnings instead, you will probably find players betting 3 times as much as do in current pools which puts racetracks and horsemen ahead of the game.
    Plus there are many occasions when you can get better odds in the parimutel pools, so players who bet exchange mostly will still do both.

  • Hey Frank,

    “Exchange Wagering is the politically correct terminology for bookmaking.” Thanks, quote of the year thus far in 2011.

    The benefits of exchange wagering are TRUMPED when there are betting scandals that get front page media attention and furthers public mistrust.All you have to do is “goggle” and read the various betting scandals via Betfair account holders overseas.There is no sure-fire way to protect our sport from a betting Betfair scandal….crooks will always find a way or loophole.

  • Rotund Haberdasher

    ROGER

    Whenever I “goggle” I can’t see very well. Can you help me out with that?

  • very funny….my turnover :)

  • CG

    Betfair actually can better find crooks, and have. You don’t read about too many betting scandals in North America, because it is hard to pinpoint an outfit that may be stiffing a horse and betting another horse through the betting windows.

    If penalties are severe enough, exchange betting has a way of catching up to cheaters a lot faster.

    Another positive from exchange betting is the elimination of minus pools which takes money away from tracks and horsemen, that is if exchange wagering replaced parimutuel WPS, especially show.

  • rwwupl

    I too am respectful of Barry, but don’t you think the title of your article should have been “a horseplayers view” instead of “The horse players view”

    There is a matter of FAIRNESS to all involved . Because you can point to unfairness somewhere else is not a reason to O.K. it in the greatest customer participation sport ever created.
    Stop the B.S.

  • equus

    CG,Lets make that Hyperbaric Chamber shall we???

  • Hey CG,

    I readily admit there are benefits to exchange wagering but at what price to the future of thoroughbred racing? I’m very concerned the betting scandals will ultimately do more harm than good with exchange wagering.

  • CG

    rwwupl, if you were allowed to get decent rebates in California would you still be saying the game is unfair? I’ve yet to hear that from anyone receiving rebates, even if their are a little smaller than the whales.

    Equus, you can tell I’m not a trainer or a scientist. Do I have it right when I use the terms snail or cobra venom?

    Roger, I think the fact that cheaters can be readily caught on Betfair, makes their system quite a good rat trap. Why not catch those who are looking to cheat faster?

  • CG

    “even if they are” I think I need another coffee.

  • CG,

    I understand your point but when the scandals break that opinion will be lost to the public and there will be growing mistrust and some state politicians more reluctant to support horseracing.

    I may be wrong but that’s my real fear.We’ll see because New Jersey and California should be both up and running with Exchange Wagering by 2012.

  • CG

    Betting on horses per capita is enormous in the UK compared the US. Much of that has to do with Betfair, and the reality that there are visible active winning players there.
    The UK system is flawed only because the horsemen do not get a good enough cut of the profits, and the cost of owning a horse is on the California high side. Both of these things can be corrected, but not at the expense of optimal betting percentages.

  • Ray Paulick

    ROGER WAY,

    Thanks for that great advice about the headline. Should there be an apostrophe on the word HORSEPLAYERS? Should it go before or after the “S”?

    Also, in all fairness, before I summarily fire Brad Cummings and steal his dogs in retaliation for writing such an egregious headline, I should point out that you have twisted the facts by saying the headline he wrote is plural (as in horseplayerS). Please note that the headline uses the singular word horseplayer.

    But I do appreciate the editing assistance, as always.

    Ray

  • Frank

    CG — Please vist: 1) http://forum.sbrforum.com/sportsbooks-industry/756799-betfair-muggings-loss-rebate-promo.html

    2)http://www.ifreebets.com.au/

    Noting that free bets are rebates!!

  • Frank

    CG — Betfair DOES offer rebates, and free bets (which does amount to a rebate)

  • Picksburg Phil

    Frank,
    Betfair doesn’t keep difference with the diminished takeout, the winning bettor gets it with higher payoffs.

  • Two Dollar Bill

    CG

    they don’t give rebates to guys like rwwupl who saves up all his change to make a 10 cent super bet

  • CG

    Frank, you have exchange betting confused with bookmakers who give rebates. Do more research.

  • BayouFund

    Is any information available about which betting exchange Barry is currently using and where the betting exchange is based out of? I don’t know of any legal betting exchanges in the US that are up and running (NJ and CA come to mind), so I’m guessing offshore.

  • ratherrapid

    Question–if betting exchanges are beneficial to the sport, can tracks own an exchange, and, if so, what’s the hold up. why does Betting Exchange $$$ need to go off shore, if the tracks can form their own?

  • Roger W

    Excellent comment #23 and article Ray. Don’t worry about Roger Way. He is just an old man who is looking to bother people and agitate you from your previous article by pointing out anything minute he may disagree with. Typical of HANA.

  • Tinky

    “…if betting exchanges are beneficial to the sport, can tracks own an exchange, and, if so, what’s the hold up.”

    Of course tracks can develop and own exchanges. The hold up is:

    a) INERTIA, and a long-standing unwillingness to make structural changes to the status quo

    b) hellish – and unfair – state government regulations, coupled with the ignorance of most state regulators when it comes to racing issues

    c) ignorance amongst racetrack owners and executives (should require no elaboration)

  • rwwupl

    #23 Ray Paulick…

    I do not think any one missed the intent of my comment.

    No one asked for Brad Cummings to be fired or said anything about apostrophe except you.

    I am glad to be of help and I am glad that you appreciate it.

    Roger Way

  • rwwupl

    #31 Roger W…
    Why do you insist following me around and making personal comments, giving the impression that you are someone else?
    What is your real name and what is your motive?
    Do you have anything to contribute except to smear someone else?

    Roger Way

  • ratherrapid

    if the exchange wagering were controlled by the tracks instead of some company located in Britain, what would be the financial harm to the tracks?

  • England never had pari mutuel wagering have they?

  • caroline

    roger, there is the tote in England, and I don’t think it has yet been privatized.

  • Ray Paulick

    rwwupl / ROGER WAY

    I just checked the online intergalactic phone book and discovered there are at least three people with the first name Roger and last name beginning with “W.” Maybe Roger W is one of them.

  • Frank

    Exchange betting IS NOT pari mutual betting. That is the problem. Exchange betting, as well as sites that offer rebates, DO NOT, DO NOT, understand DO NOT, have commingled pools with the host track. If they did they would be subject to takeout (see comment #10). This is where rebates COME FROM; they do not all of a sudden appear. When betting with exchange, or rebate entities, you are betting one on one (Ref, Casino’s), not mutual pool as at the track (see comment #6). The rebate entities are backing your bet, NOT, the track — you ARE NOT part of the mutual pool. Rebates are a Thank You for LOSING your money with us. Exchange betting, and rebate entities DO NOT support horse racing, as such, because they are not part of the mutual pool. All monies go DIRECTLY into THEIR pockets. This is one of the reasons that exchange entities, such as Betfair, only allow win wagering only.

  • Tinky

    Frank –

    Keeping track of your numerous mistakes is a daunting task. In your most recent post, you stated that:

    “Exchange betting, and rebate entities DO NOT support horse racing…”

    WRONG (see below)

    “All monies go DIRECTLY into THEIR pockets.“

    WRONG – Betfair contributes large sums of money to racing in Britain.

    “This is one of the reasons that exchange entities, such as Betfair, only allow win wagering only.”

    WRONG – They offer other forms of betting ad well.

    Why don’t you stop opining on topics on which you are so poorly informed?

  • PTP

    40 comments and none on Barry Meadow’s lid on the picture? I bet he went home after that and cranked some Three Dog Night.

    Awesome pic Barry!

    PTP

  • CG

    He was a harness racing player back then. Probably listened to a lot of Rockabilly.

  • John Swetye

    My opinion is a central racing authority — like Equibase, for example — should operate a betting exchange in which the races of all tracks are listed. A revenue sharing model should be used like in other major league sports so that larger market tracks do not benefit at the expense of the smaller market ones.

  • ratherrapid

    of course, if that is legally possible. seems if Betfair is legal here so would a USA owned entity. what’s the scoop on that?

  • ratherrapid

    The NTRA, possibly?

  • Frank

    Tinky —
    Betfair is assed a 10% horse racing levy. The UK wants to increase that percentage because they feel Betfair is NOT doing their share in the “support” of racing! France has outlawed Betfair, as well as all other betting exchanges.
    Yes they do offer other forms of betting, BUT, you cannot bet place or show, only win!

  • I would now have to worry when Betfair becomes legal in New Jersy that the horse I’m betting via pari mutuel isn’t being stiffed because the connections can make more money on the Betting Exchanges by losing.

    I won’t have to worry about Betfair-CA because I’ll probably still be boycotting next year too.

  • CG

    Frank, wrong again. Betfair allows “place” wagering. Place wagering is really show wagering on races with 8 or more starters, and place betting on shorter fields.
    Do more research.

  • Indulto

    CG, #3, wrote, “… I’m not saying that rebates don’t create a non level playing field, but if a gambler in Vegas knows they are getting 10% back for example, they are playing with an advantage as well.
    The rebates don’t directly affect the way the track pays off the bets, just like the blackjack rebate doesn’t affect the immediate pay off at the table.”
    That may be accurate, but the higher takeout that supports the rebate subsidy does not return additional funding for payoffs to winners, and since such a high percentage of handle comes from off-track, the net to tracks and purses is now insufficient to replace the revenue formerly generated by on-track patrons.

    The reality is that the percentage returned to the rebated player — win or lose – enables him to effectively purchase more exotic wager combinations for the same amount wagered by his unrebated counterpart who now has less chance to cash. Even when the same bet is made by both, the rebated player’s total actual return is higher when he cashes, and the amounts returned on lost wagers can help preserve bankroll through streaks that would break the unrebated player making the same bets.

    Kudos to Mr. Paulick with his follow-up piece showing that rebated players are not villains and perhaps demonstrating that those assisting them in obtaining legal rebates are not engaged in the criminal, abusive, and violent if not deadly activities associated with the objectionable term applied in the previous piece.

    Consequently, I apologize to him for my impassioned remarks as I did not protest similar scrutiny elsewhere of a central opposition figure’s past activities. Hopefully Mr. Paulick will one day see fit to take back the term he unfortunately if not unfairly employed.

    Mr. Meadow belongs in the list of those I referenced yesterday as having contributed significantly to horseplayer knowledge and competence, and I apologize to him for the oversight.

    The fact that both he and Mr. Platt advocate takeout being equal at the lowest practical level for all players, places responsibility for correcting the situation on the shoulders of industry leaders and regulators since it is obviously as harmful to their interests as it is to those of most horseplayers.

    rwwupl #5 and Rutgers #6 – you get it!

  • Frank

    CG —
    You are right about place wagers with Betfair. The article I read on Betfair was 2 or 3 years old. It did state that Betfair was looking into including place and show wagering in the future. It did not explain what the problem was.
    I did come across something, today, that I was not aware of previously. I don’t think it will affect most who comment here, as it only affects winners. After reading below, something to ponder. Betfair charges a 5% commission on all winnings. That being the case, why the premium charge? As with takeout, losers ARE NOT affected. It will not affect you, or others here that comment, BUT, it WILL affect me. To me, the only explanation for a premium charge is that maybe Betfair IS, indirectly, backing all bets. Remember, what difference should it make to Betfair who wins, and how much, as long as they get their 5% commission, unless the winnings are DIRECTLY effecting their TOTAL take!. Won’t be commenting any longer with respect to take out. Nobody wants to understand, That’s Fine. Read below:
    http://green-all-over.blogspot.com/2008/09/guardian-article-on-betfair-premium.html

    Guardian Article on Betfair Premium Charge
    Betfair – where winners have just become losers by Greg Wood

    Betfair retain a public image as a pioneering start-up, but customers’ loyalty may be tested by their new “premium charges”

    September 9, 2008 12:01 AM

    The life story of the Betfair betting exchange is relatively brief, but it has certainly packed a lot into its nine-year existence. From a tiny start-up, fired by the vision and genius of its two founders, Andrew Black and Edward Wray, it has grown into a billion-pound business, with hundreds of staff in plush riverside offices, customers in dozens of countries, and a Queen’s Award for Enterprise nailed to the wall.

    And amid all the staggering numbers, there is another, less tangible, achievement. Betfair is now one of the world’s biggest betting businesses, yet it has always managed to retain a public image of the pioneering start-up, defying the corporate norms. Many of its clients still feel like members of a club, and have the same sort of regard for Betfair that Apple-fanatics do for their Macs. This has always helped to keep them “sticky”, and allowed Betfair to defend its near-monopoly.

    The loyalty of some customers may be tested to the limit, however, by Betfair’s decision, announced yesterday, to introduce “premium charges” for some of their biggest winners. Betfair insists that the new charges will affect “less than 0.5%” of its customers, but still seems to stand in complete contradiction to the company’s oft-repeated boast that this is a place “where winners are welcome”.

    The charges, and the conditions under which these will be incurred, are explained in a 1,200-word posting on the Betfair website. The rules are, clearly, quite complicated, but plenty of their customers are starting to consider the implications. One Betfair client who contacted the Guardian yesterday said that if the charges had been imposed over the last few weeks, he would have been forced to pay “a five-figure sum”.

    “They think they can do it because they have an effective monopoly. I look forward to their next advertising campaign. Instead of ‘where winners are welcome’, they can say, ‘come to Betfair, where winners get screwed’,” he added.

    1. Peter on October 1st, 2008 2:17 am
    It is wrong to think that this will only hit the big winners.
    The £1000 allowance over 60 weeks works out at just £2.37 per day. If you average more than this amount per day then you will become liable to pay the Premium charge.
    If you have a lot of winners and a lot of losers then you may not pay it, due to the commission you pay (actual and implied) on your bets.
    However, if you regularly win small amounts with few losers, you will find that you end up paying this tax.
    Apart from the fact that you need a degree in maths to work out these charges, Betfair have not made the information readily available to the punter to enable him to TRY to work out whether or not he is likely to be paying tax on his winnings.
    There is no information avaialble that shows your last 60 weeks profit and loss, nor is there any information showing what commission you have paid or implied commission you have created, over the past 60 weeks.
    I have been with Betfair for about 6 years and have been very grateful to them for the opportunities they have given me. However, the first time I get hit by this tax, I will be moving to Betdaq.
    Does Betfair still welcome winners? Most definitely.. they fleece them!!

    http://www.horseracingman.com/betfair-winners-are-welcome-or-are-they/

  • Tinky

    Frank –

    After admitting that you had been relying on outdated Betfair information, you immediately cut and paste two to three year-old criticisms of the company.

    What is your problem? You obviously aren’t at all familiar with Betfair. They continue to be wildly successful. And while they may well be open to criticism on some issues, why don’t you do some serious research before spouting off?

  • Does the English chap Brackpool have a Betfair account overseas? If so, he should disqualify himself on all votes regarding Exchange Wagering as Commissioner of CHRB.

  • Pierre Rupple

    If there was one thing I wish I could do with HANA it would be to fire the so called leaders of the organization. Here we stand years after their inception and they have not accomplished even one of their goals. Roger Way is one of the worst representatives of the people of California and under his leadership takeout is greater than ever (on a side note not pertaining to this I used to have respect for World War 1 vets too). The people who paid their hard earned money to join with worthless organization deserve at least a key chain or something for their money since the promises of lower take have been met with just the opposite. They think they have succeeded with their boycott when in reality the economy can be to blame for the handle decrease and less horses on the grounds. None of the “real players” have stopped betting Santa Anita because that would require will power like when someone who gives up drinking. The only times these guys boycotted was on a Wednesday when the track was closed. Keep up the wonderful work Ray and thank you for setting the record straight.

  • Tinky

    “… in reality the economy can be to blame for the handle decrease and less horses on the grounds. None of the “real players” have stopped betting Santa Anita because that would require will power like when someone who gives up drinking.”

    Ridiculous assertions. Handle is strong at Tampa (to use one example), so the economy is obviously not the explanation. Furthermore, it is, in large part, a form of “will power” that separates the biggest and most successful bettors from the rest.

  • Just what does ‘real players” mean? That type attitude is one of the reasons racetracks have lost many grandstand customers in the last 15 years….they aren’t respected.

    If tracks had to count on your ‘real players” for on track attendance increases….forget about it….at a major track your “real players” betting over $5,000 is less than 30 customers and that’s on a weekend.

    Customers are customers and their opinion should be valued equally as a whole but when you start to value only big bettors input ….that’s when the IMBALANCE widens and attendance drops which is where the game is right now.

    Churchill Downs marketing dept. used the “real players” lingo in some ADW ads in the Form a few years ago…..they’re just arrogant and clueless.

  • Tinky

    roger –

    Valuing two dollar bettors equally with those who put hundreds of thousands (or millions) through the windows? Terrific advise. You must be a very successful business owner yourself.

  • Hey Tinky,

    The level of intellect of a horseplayer isn’t necessarily by the amount he wagers.

    I worked 9 years at a major track running 3 departments and a big player like David Milch input would be valued as would a customer that maybe only bet $250 but was very sharp as well.

  • CG

    Pierre, it is free to join HANA. Handle is up at GP, TB, and FG. Florida tracks where you can buy land for a nickle an acre.
    I can’t see blaming the economy for SA’s woes.

    Frank, they’ve had place (which is really show betting) for years at Betfair. I believe business is still strong even after initiating the premium charge.

  • PTP

    @ pierre wrote “The people who paid their hard earned money to join with worthless organization deserve at least a key chain or something”

    I joined. It doesn’t cost anything to, but I must admit I agree that a free keychain would be cool. I’m not sure who is going to pay for 1800 keychains, but it ain’t my problem.

    PTP

  • PTP

    @johnswetye “My opinion is a central racing authority — like Equibase, for example — should operate a betting exchange in which the races of all tracks are listed. A revenue sharing model should be used like in other major league sports so that larger market tracks do not benefit at the expense of the smaller market ones. ”

    You make a good point John, but I am pretty sure the machinations would be:

    – A fight about takeout. Horsemen demand 16% win take, the tracks think 14% would be good. They settle on 15%

    – No one plays

    – Track and horsemen conclude American bettors don’t like betting exchanges.

    PTP

  • Indulto

    Since a WW I vet would have to have been born pretty close to the year 1900, I doubt Mr. Way qualifies for that honor, but Mr. Rupple, #53, must think he’s the Red Baron flying off in all directions and shooting off his keyboard.

    If I were a HANA board member, I’d think twice about continuing to serve without compensation while wearing a bulls-eye on my back. Frankly, the willingness of players with industry savvy in addition to handicapping knowledge like Mr. Way, Mr. Platt, and Mr. Meadow who volunteer their time and resources (so that bettors like me might not have to continue to bear the brunt of the misguided takeout increase) in the face of diatribes like Mr. Rupple’s astounds me. The boycott has raised the level of awareness of the takeout issue one thousand-fold. Thank you HANA for making that happen, and thank you, Mr. Way, for standing up for the little guy.

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