Macauley: Don’t Show Me the Money?

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The Paulick Report received this unusual tale of show bets and a major advance deposit wagering company from Frank E. Macauley, who’s been watching and playing the races for more than a half century and who is now a member of Team Valor partnerships.

The French have an old saying “Plus les choses changent et plus elles restent les mêmes.” (The more things change, the more they stay the same.)

For over 56 years, I have been a fan of the sport of Thoroughbred racing. For most of those years, I along with many others suffered the indignities levied upon us from insulting parking attendants, outright rude pari-mutuel clerks and many other employees of various racing facilities.  It not only was how we were treated by the facilities, but the increases in the mutual take, the lousy food, the high prices, the decrease in the minimum payoff from 10 percent to 5 percent.  For most of us it was the love of the sport that kept us going. So some of us endured.

It seemed that the wagering industry was trying very hard to alienate its customers. And how they have succeeded.  Attendance dropped. Facilities closed. And a lot of us “old-timers” passed away, which left a smaller and smaller customer base.

About a decade ago, the industry finally woke up to the fact that they needed to change things if horse racing was to survive. It has been a difficult climb because no longer is it the only game in town.  A few tracks did quite well in improving their customer base, and there are others that are trying with some success.  Attendance will never be what it was.  However, this is the age of technology and the industry has done quite well in marketing its product via off-site venues.  The handle continues to be floundering at some facilities, but the sport has been kept alive by casinos of various types.  How long this will continue remains to be seen.

Now, it seems that the industry, once again, wants to kill the goose. On Sept. 23 I received a telephone call from a very nervous gentleman at TwinSpires, where I have had a wagering account since it was BrisBET.

The purpose of the called shocked me.  It was requested that I limit my show wagers to $20. I am 81 years old and hearing impaired.  I advised the gentleman of this and repeated to him what I thought he was telling me.

About three weeks earlier my wagering account balance was about $500.  My physical activity is restricted at the present time.  I needed something to keep my mind functioning and to occupy part of my day.  To amuse myself I tried to see how far I could go with the $500 making show bets.  Over two weeks I made about 25 show bets of $500 each without a loss. I made about $650.00.  Then I got the call.

My selections were made from available on-line data, either the night before or the morning of the race.  I was doing this for fun. I waited until close to post time to make the wager; I wanted to watch the race, check out track conditions, et cetera.

TwinSpires’ complaint seemed to be that some of the races I wagered on had minus show pools.  This I don’t understand.  Certainly my bet didn’t make the minus pools; minus pools have been a part of the sport as long as I can remember.  If I was at the track, I could have made these wagers without any problem.  It is my understanding that TwinSpires and others commingled their wagers with the track pools.  They are not bookmakers, but they certainly are acting like they are.

I was reminded by the TwinSpires representative that in Europe they don’t have show wagering.  This isn’t Europe. If the tracks don’t want to accept show wagers, they can change the rules.  In fact in some of the races I played there were not any show wagers and I played to place.  When I asked about place wagers, it seems that Twin Spires is not too keen on them as well, and would impose the same restrictions.

Through the decades management has made some very bad and belated decisions. These decisions have done a lot of damage to the sport.  It is a long, hard road back.  This morning I read, once again, “The Horseplayer is a vital part of our industry…”

Always has been, but at times you wouldn’t know it.
– Frank E. Macauley

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  • McGov

    I remember when Cigar was on his win streak and there was at least one guy making very large show wagers on him…that is until they stopped show wagering on his races.
    IMO, it is inappropriate to limit one player …either allow unlimited show wagering for all….or none.

  • kyle

    Frank, think of it like this. There was one absurdity the game had not subjected you to. Your lifetime racing experience is now complete. Perhaps a medal of some sort will now be coming your way.

  • PTP

    “I was reminded by the TwinSpires representative that in Europe they don’t have show wagering. This isn’t Europe.”

    Classic line Frank!

    You’re da man, as the kids say.

    PTP

    • kyle

      That is the kind of ridiculous thing you often hear from customer service reps, and it’s not limited to horse racing. I don’t know who trains them, but often they think they their role is to argue and defend. I’m sure nothing would have made complete sense to Frank considering the circumstances, but if the rep just would have said: ” Sir, it may seem absurd. But when there is a minus pool we are responsible for making it up to our customers. Because of that we ask you to please limit your show bets to $20 on short-priced horses.” And then offered him a some token of appreciation for his business. Of course, that may have taken LISTENING to circumstances

  • Vinnie

    XPRESSBET has never put a limit on any of my wagers in 10 years. Frank, time to switch ADW’s.

  • Mike Dorr

    Not that the request was right by TwinSpires (it wasn’t), but ADWs are responsible for their portion of a minus pool. Wagers are co-mingled for purposes of determining payouts but not payout responsibility. It is likely that a majority of Frank’s $650 in winnings came out of TwinSpires pocket.

    My take: Frank may be considered a VIP bettor and gets assigned a “handler” behind-the-scenes. That rep sees his “portfolio” takeout go negative and makes a call, which he handles very poorly ($20 being so arbitrary, and the “place” comment)

    I fully believe Frank’s account but I wonder if behind the request isn’t a misguided policy but a misguided person. Worth digging deeper.

  • Rocket Scientist

    How dare you Frank. Make a wager that doesn’t guarantee them a profit. Oh the humanity!!! Thank GOD you are wise enough to show them the obvious, if they don’t like it, they can turn off show wagering to everyone. What morons. Get ready racetracks, Twinspires will change the contracts going forward, they will want the host to cover minus pools. Churchill is full of tools.

    • Don Reed

      Yeah. What nerve.

  • David

    Really? This is great!

  • 4Bellwether666

    TwinSpires is owned by Hoo???…ty…

  • russ adams

    penn national now doesnt let you bet show in certain races especially with a minus pool. penn national being cheap as usual

    • Chris Lowe

      I have noticed many harness tracks eliminate show and sometimes place wagering on certain stakes with an overwhelming favorite.

  • Patti Davis

    Frank, glad you’re enjoying the races at your “mature” age. Awesome! I wish you were my grandpa.

    Your response is a simple one: IMMEDIATELY CLOSE YOUR TWIN SPIRES ACCOUNT. Take your business elsewhere.

    • Frank Macauley

      Patti, Thank you for the wonderful compliment. I would be very happy to be your Grandpa.

  • Roger

    Twinspires is a licensed CA ADW and this should be further investigated by CHRB Chairman David Israel given the CHRB licenses ADW’s in the state. I wonder if any bets were from races in CA because CA law guarantees minimum payout 5 cents on the dollar.
    The question came up several months ago but not answered by previous CHRB …..if a CA customer makes a bet with a licensed CA ADW are they obligated to pay the minimum 5 cents on the dollar regardless where the race was run? TVG payouts have never been questioned but once again it was Twispires not wanting to pay out on a Frankel place bet because of minus pool….TVG paid out $2.10.

  • Charlie Davis

    Interesting that an Industry leading ADW(by size at least) chooses to shut out a player, rather than make an attempt to remedy the situation. With their clout, why aren’t they advocating elimination/minimization of breakage, thus doing away with the majority of minus pools?

    No bet-taker wants to lose money when their customers win, and that makes complete sense, but instead of trying to fix the root cause, they go after their customer(and a small customer at that).

    Piss poor customer service by Twinspires, Unfortunately, that’s what we’ve come to expect. Find yourself a new ADW Mr. Macauley, and continue to bet away!

  • lab rat

    They took 56 cents from me and when i complained they would not give me back the money.But i have to thank them Twinspires because it opened my eyes to look for another adw BETPTC who pay real money on every wager

  • Aaron

    I had a problem with TwinSpires were they duplicated ACH withdrawals from my bank account, causing the account to go negative (It’s a small “wagering only” account I have just to use for Twin Spires). Several customer service people were nice, but one person in particular, Johnny, went as far to suggest that this was my fault and I needed to make a payment to make my account return to good standing as my bank had sent back those duplicate ACH withdrawals. I received another email from another supervisor saying I needed to pay back my account, that I owed them money. It was finally straightened out after a week, but because of their ineptitude and lack of overall customer service, I am no longer wagering with them and may consider no longer wagering on Churchill Downs owned properties.

  • jack

    That’s not too bad compared to what Betfair does to many of their winning players. They are subjected to a 60% commission on their winnings.

  • Don Reed

    “Outright rude pari-mutuel clerks…”

    In this category, the winner is, hands-down, Arapahoe Park, Colorado.

    Margin of victory: By the number of lengths that Ron The Greek won the Jockey Gold Cup.

  • Don Reed

    Twisted Spires.

  • LongTimeEconomist

    This mindset is not limited to Twinspires. I started betting online with TVG, but their surcharge on every bet and an incident where they completely misled customers about a type of bet being accepted on races from Cheltenham, England, led me to close out my account. My bets with TwinSpires since are too few and too far between for me to have any war stories yet.

  • Ned Daly

    Tell the ADW to make up the minus pol out of their profits. It’s nt your fault.

  • gambling boat

    a friend advises me that france has win-show betting. that is: place/show betting are combined as one pool. thus, if you want to play horse to win/place the American way you would collect if your horse ran 3rd .

  • brussellky

    The comment about Europe exposes their gross incompetence. No, they don’t have show wagering but their place bet pays if the horse runs 1st, 2nd or 3rd. In other words, it is the same bet with a different name. The fact that someone working for an ADW, that takes bets on UK racing, would voluntarily make an idiot out of himself by using this false statement as justification, should result in immediate dismissal due to lack of knowledge of one of his own products. However, his boss and his boss’ boss probably didn’t or don’t know either.

  • Red Knave

    The French saying actually is “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”.
    Now, as to minus pools, Twin Spires customer service is in need of a huge head-shake. This gentleman bet $12,500 and so must have contributed, say, 10% of that to the ADW in fees. I’m guessing here since I don’t know what fees are, what rebates might be in place etc. In any event, I believe he has overall added to the bottom line of TS not teken anything away.
    It’s just so sad to hear about stuff like this.

    • Don Reed

      Merci. “Plus les choses changent etplus elles restent les mêmes” did look odd, unfamiliar. Probably an old NYC-OTB translation.

  • Michelle Sanford

    Embarrassment to my Industry..yet again.
    I hope this exposure causes a Big out cry. Seems only when a Large number of people are outrages are these type of issues addressed.

  • partisan

    This is why there are still bookies!

  • Steven Tyre CPA

    Frank,

    Open an Express Bet account. I have never had a bad experience with them.

    Steven Tyre CPA

  • Don Reed

    New Twin Spires policy for the Breeders Cup: No “win” betting.

    • Chris Lowe

      Replaced with octafectas.

  • Arnold H

    To win $650 from 25 consecutive $500 bets, the average payoff is $2.10. Even at that level, it’s remarkable to win that many show bets in a row. Congratulations to Mr. Macauley. You would think Twin Spires would be promoting how well you can do betting races as Casinos do in promoting slot winners.

    But, that someone can cherry pick a heavy favorite and get a very small payout 25 times in a row tends to show the real problem with racing these days; very small fields and so-called ‘super’ trainers. That’s what should be worrying here; not whether someone can make a series of large show bets. Incidentally, one loser would wipe out essentially all the gain.

  • 1stADW

    I helped institute limits on bridgejumping at another ADW (now absorbed by the culprit here) several years ago. Fact of the matter is the ADW is responsible for their portion of the minus pool so I understand why this is being monitored in the 1st place. What is misguided is the execution of that strategy, as a few $500 show bets that meet this condition surely can’t be eating at the pockets of a company like CHDN with a 1.5B market cap. If your play was solely show bets over the course of a period of time, always capitilizing on negative pools and at high base amounts, e.g. $5K, then it’s easy to see why this sort of thing is policed by ADW’s.

    • Don Reed

      In other words, if you “beat” your bookie one too many times, you get your “diploma” (he dumps your business).

      Good to see the “legals” performing just like the “illegals.”

  • Kilroy Was Here

    Frank clearly does not appreciate the fact that he is supposed to lose money, regardless of the the type of bet. The Twin Spires agent was remiss in not pointing that out.

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