Friday, March 12, 2010

Tioga to lower takeout rates

Thursday, March 11, 2010 - by Dustin Ross, regional racing operations manager, Tioga/Vernon Downs


Nichols, NY --- Tioga Downs, in its relatively short history, has consistently been on the cutting edge of adapting the racing model toward a more positive result. In a direct response to the vocal concerns of horseplayers, Tioga Downs will reduce its takeout rate across the board to the state minimum allowed by New York law for the 2010 racing season, pending regulatory approval of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

By taking such an action, Tioga management is hopeful that a positive response, over due course, will result in increased handle on its live races and foster an industry trend toward more competitive pricing.

A mutually beneficial dialogue has been ongoing between Tioga management and the Horseplayers Association of North America toward how the needs of the bettor may best be met.

HANA is a critical resource in understanding our customer and their input has been logical and subjective throughout. They recently conducted a member survey, where over 600 horseplayers who bet more than two times a week on average answered 50 questions, which yielded some interesting stats. Most notable among those was the 85.1 percent of those polled who voiced “moderate to extreme concern” over high takeout versus the 2.8 percent who answered that they had “no concern at all” over the cost of wagering. The same poll indicated that 53.9 percent would be likely to increase their wagering at a reduced level.

Mr. Jeff Platt is the President of HANA and had this to say in support of Tioga’s initiative. “We believe lower takeout is a step in the right direction and applaud Tioga for reaching out to the customer. Lower takeout gives players a better chance to win and over time enables players to bet more. In addition, by offering a low signal fee, Tioga is telling both ADWs and horseplayers 'We want your business.' We encourage horseplayers everywhere to support Tioga by betting their product.”

Tioga Downs' 2009 takeout rates were 18 percent for win-place-show, 20 percent for exactas/doubles and 25 percent for all other exotics. For the 2010 race season the price of those wagers will be reduced as follows: 15 percent for win-place-show, 17 percent for exactas/doubles and 21 percent for all other exotics, pending regulatory approval.

“Horseplayers have voiced their concern over the high takeout rates across our industry and we are responding to their call,” said Jason Settlemoir, Tioga Downs’ VP of Racing and Simulcast. “The USTA recently polled visitors to their Web site and 1,259 out of 1,710 people who voted (roughly 74 percent) responded they would be more apt to bet races if a track lowered their takeout rate. We will advertise that our takeout rates are the lowest allowed by law in New York State, and are anxious to see if business picks up due to the bettor realizing more money is going back in their pockets. We hope that bettors and host sites will support our initiative to lower takeout rates, and if our handle goes up, maybe our industry as a whole will adopt this philosophy.

“We would even consider going lower on the takeout rates to between eight and nine percent like the typical hold in the casino world if the state would allow us, and our export sites would be on board.

“This will be a one year pilot program that the STHHA stands behind; we had hoped to try this at Vernon as well but could not get the horsemen’s consent,” added Settlemoir.

In an effort to offset costs to host sites (tracks, OTB’s and internet platforms that take wagering on the Tioga Downs product), the price of the signal to the majority of sites will be reduced to 2 percent and decoders will once again cost only $50 a month.

As of today the takeout rates are pending regulatory approval of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

For more information on Tioga Downs, visit www.tiogadowns.com.