Horseplayers Association Urges Keeneland Boycott

by | 10.06.2017 | 1:36pm

The Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) and Playersboycott.org have jointly announced that a horseplayer boycott of Keeneland is underway, citing an increase in takeout despite a revenue windfall from Historical Racing machines located at The Red Mile as reasons for the boycott.

“Keeneland decided to hit horseplayers with a takeout increase,” HANA President and Playersboycott.org spokesman Jeff Platt said. “Keeneland claims they are going to use money raised by the takeout increase to boost purses. But higher takeout in the name of bigger purses has been tried before and it has failed, big time.”

Platt cited past takeout increases as examples:

“For the first 6 months immediately following the takeout increase at Los Alamitos in 2010 on track handle was down 27%.

Horseplayers boycotted Santa Anita and Golden Gate in the early months of 2011 as a result of takeout increases there. Instead of bigger purses the result was purse cuts and layoffs. In October, 2011 the local paper in Arcadia, CA where Santa Anita is located reported Santa Anita was cutting one third of its staff.

Churchill had a takeout increase for their spring 2014 meet. Handle fell by 25% outside of the Derby and Maggi Moss reported on her Twitter account that Churchill had quietly announced a 20% purse cut for their fall 2014 meet.

“None of this would have happened if higher takeout was the answer. Keeneland is doubling down on the same bad idea.”

Platt also mentioned that he reached out to Keeneland management beforehand:

“I reached out to Bob Elliston of Keeneland and we had a 90 minute phone call. We discussed the actual outcomes that arose from the above takeout increases. But it became obvious that Keeneland believes players would support a takeout increase because money raised by the takeout increase would be going to bigger purses. I did my best to make it clear that takeout increases lead to the opposite of bigger purses. In the end we agreed to disagree.”

Beginning Friday October 6, 2017: Takeout for WIN-PLACE-SHOW wagers at Keeneland will be 17.50%. (An increase of 9.375% vs. last meet's takeout rate of 16.00%.) Takeout for all EXOTIC wagers at Keeneland except the pick5 will be 22.00%. (An increase of 15.79% vs. last meet's takeout rate of 19.00%.)

HANA and Playersboycott.org are asking horseplayers to consider the idea that horseplayers are consumers and that every handle dollar bet at Keeneland is a vote for higher takeout everywhere.

HANA and Playersboycott.org are asking horseplayers to send a clear message by not betting one track, Keeneland, for one month, October 2017. That's it.

Platt finished with the following message to horseplayers:

“Join us. Together we can convince Keeneland to reverse their decision.”

Apparently in response to the boycott call by the Horseplayers Association of North America, Keeneland president and CEO Bill Thomasson issued the following statement: “Keeneland, since its inception in 1936, has operated toward a singular mission to invest all profits above what is necessary to operate our company back into the industry to benefit all who are part of it.  We have never wavered from our founding principles, and we will never do so.  This price increase, the first in decades, keeps us within the five lowest blended rates of all major U.S. racetracks and is necessary to continue to fulfill our mission. Keeneland's mission stands for fan development, safety and welfare initiatives, developing racing across the world and delivering the highest quality and most competitive racing product to our horsemen and fans.

Horsemen from across the U.S. and Europe have entered an average of 100 horses in each of the three days of our Fall Stars Weekend; assembling some of the best race cards available to fans this year.  We trust that those who we exist to serve — our owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, fans and yes, handicappers, will continue to support the mission that has guided our actions since our inception.”

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