Where Did Common Sense Go ?

by Ed Meyer

posted on September 30, 2015 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Uncategorized, WinningPonies.com | 3 Comments >>

People love to bet, and there is no denying that. – Why not, it’s your discretionary dollar and isn’t it up to you on how to spend it ? – After work yesterday a few of the guys got together for a few beers and some wings. The place was smack dab in the middle of a bustling racino, and the energy was flowing. Good sports bar grub, cold beer, every game on the over-sized screens. One would have thought we died and went to gamblers’ heaven. – That was until one of the group wanted to bet Santa Anita. He couldn’t find a single TV in a place that was filled with football, soccer, car racing, and ESPN-style shows. Now, about 20 yards away was a small-ish race book that was taking every signal under the sun, and the place was starting to empty out. – The big question; why not complement your all-sports facility with a game you could actually wager ? It’s a known fact the best days for the racino are when live racing is in session, and right now simulcast wagering is at a boom as we head into the Breeders’ Cup. Sports fans love to watch and wager, and keeping it hidden in the closet could be one of the worst mistakes they’ll make all year.

If I were gaming king for the day there would be a few changes. I would offer up a free handicapping seminar in the late mornings on Saturdays with free coffee and donuts. The sports screens would be showing upcoming events, and the place would start the day with a buzz. – For fans coming in, there would be free on-track only programs as they follow along with the handicapping. As they entered, they could swipe their loyalty card for a special drawing to be held at the end of the day. – Not enough ? – Go ahead and offer up a special slot / VLT tournament for players who register and stay for the entire seminar. – You’re not holding them hostage, you’re giving them an opportunity to win just for being there all the while showcasing your entire facility. – The only sure fire way to lose is keeping them secret and separate. One will never be able to promote the other.

Offer up double and triple point days for wagering on the races. Not just for slots galore, make it wide open for the racing fans as well ? – Why not, you already have them there, and doesn’t it make sense to invest in someone spending more time at a place where they already made the effort to visit ? – Keep Las Vegas-style sports tickers going in the race book and sports bar. It has that Vegas feel, and you know damn good and well many of the horse players have a bet or two on the big games. Have any race book losing tickets to be a second-chance drawing for huge amounts of loyalty points that don’t carry a large financial drain. People love to win for nothing, and there is nothing sweeter than having a second-chance style drawing.

I enjoy working at a glitzy facility that smells and looks new, and the place is perfect. – If you allow your employees to foster the idea that racing is just a burden to carry as they’ve been brainwashed to push the VLT gaming, you are destined to lose. The ability to offer a myriad of legal wagering opportunities is what you want to offer. Would you go to the buffet if they offered three items and pay full price ? – How about having a racing handicapper that has a speakers podium at the top of the stage, and a “mutuel fun wager” where players could plunk down $5, $10, or $20 and receive share(s) like the stock market ? The racino could start the pool at $500, and watch and see players drop off a $5 or a $10 to get involved in the last four or five races at Belmont, Keeneland, or Santa Anita. We’ll say we have $1,000 to play the final pick-four and pick-five. – If the group hits, everyone will receive a share of the of the winnings. There could be a large dry erase board detailing who the group has going, and everyone loves to win as a group. Something about birds of feather type thinking. – The track handicapper is decked out in the local NFL garb, and looks just like everyone else. He or she is one of the gang. – You get to drink a few, grub down on your favorite fare, and every twenty minutes you’ll have the groups attention to watch a screen rooting like crazy for your big ticket to come rolling home. – What if it doesn’t hit ? – No problem, as we could have a bounce back offer for a percentage off of sports bar food, or a lunch buffet. Everyone goes home a winner and the focus is about keeping the players there. They sure can’t bet the Wizard of Oz slot machine if they leave.


In a nutshell. Employees on the gaming side are hands-off from patrons. You’ll never see a team member giving a hearty hand shake with a hug to anyone. Players love to be recognized, and instead of policing the place with security to intimidate, keep them low-key keep doing their jobs almost out of sight. – I know, it’s more fun for many managers to enjoy the idea of making them leave. They don’t care about the racing side of the business, and racing is a dying game where we want to drop in more VLT’s to take the place of race book seats. – Go back to the buffet theory. Don’t you like having a mega-facility with a little bit of everything going on ? – You bet ! – For a facility that is down on the year, and is one of the lowest earning racinos in the state wouldn’t you try something new ? – What do you have to lose ? The track and turf course cost in the millions; the state of the art grandstand, and the bright jumbo-tron in the infield with plenty of places to wager. – For the managers who drink the Kool-Aid. Racing was around long before you came up with your name tags and uniform suits. Racing is not an illness to be cured, and players want to watch and wager. You are doing the greatest injustice to keep them out of the loop. Employees are losing interest and leaving to find other work, the razzle-dazzle idea of moving shifts for employees is dizzying. First train your employees to embrace the facility, and enjoy ALL of the amenities you have to offer. – Keep your corporate culture, but loosen up. Be available, be visible, and stay out of the way of gamblers. They are a cagey group, and they sure don’t want to talk while playing. They’ll know where you’re at, and by coming across with a genuine attitude instead of reading off a cue card. They’ll learn to trust you and you’ll create a real relationship. – Now see where that ranks on the list of how we make more money, retain quality employees, and invest in our best players. – Go ahead and take that $20,000 you have earmarked for New Year’s Eve decorations, and invest into racing all year long with free contests, Las Vegas qualifiers, and mutuel fun type wagers. I’ll bet you’ll see a renewed interest.