Treat Them Right and They’ll Be Back

by Ed Meyer

posted on December 8, 2016 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | 1 Comment >>

I loved going to the track. The sites and smells and the unique characters made every trip an adventure. – That was my thought many moons ago. Now when I walk in, it looks like a ghost of it’s former self. What used to be a hub of humanity is now an echo chamber where the sounds of far away tracks bounce off the walls. If you think about the idea, it kinda’ gets you a little choked up. It takes me back to the scene of The Color of Money when Paul Newman has “Vince” Tom Cruise in hand and they are running up the stairs to a once upon a time pool hall haven. – Newman stops and looks at the kid and has that locked in stare. ” You can feel the action,kid.” – They run into the large empty room once upon a time pool hall and find it’s a warehouse. –¬†That’s the feeling when you walk into the race book of many tracks.

Just some observations from a player who has seen many of the best and worst ideas the track has to offer. – The parking is free, and admission is the same. Good thing, as they have outlived their need. Don’t charge players to pay to come in to bet. The casino boats once upon a time used to charge and people would pay. But that too has gone the way of the dinosaur. Every guy or gal who makes a bet or two has all the answers, and I guess I have a few opinions as well. But mine are based in the many years tagging along as a kid watching and learning. Starting at the bottom and working my way through the ranks. It’s not as fast as having an inside track, but the education is one that isn’t taught at night school and doesn’t come in a book.

In a nutshell, here are some ideas that may help the bottom line. – From the time you walk in to making your first bet. The experience is what it’s all about in today’s market.


1. – Keep the building “short.” – There is no need for five floors. Keep it to a simulcast area and another floor where there can be bands, an event, or a party type atmosphere. – Keep them separate to allow players an option.

2. – Have the areas well-lit, clean, and ready to receive guests. – There is no more giant facility to take care, and by dropping back to a more intimate environment it doesn’t have the feel of an empty pool hall. – Restrooms must be attended as much as possible. ¬†Having clean creature comforts will be appreciated more than you know.

3. – Start the morning with a “free coffee” area. – There are two-three large urns of hot fresh coffee to welcome to the early birds.

4. – Your demo will be older until we build a new segment; so entertain the idea of roving clerks in the carroll seating to make it easy for the players to bet.

5. – Have free Wi-Fi, but BLOCK the ADW betting sites. You want players to use their mobile devices and computers but don’t want to lose your handle to outside sources.

6. – How about roving wait staff taking orders and punching them into a mobile device back to the kitchen ? – Players don’t have to wait in lines and the staff will get to know your guests. – It’s all about the experience.

7. – With every program purchase, you’ll receive a FREE live racing only program. Make it easy to have your information in their hands. – You make more on your track when they bet it on track.

8. – Games and gimmicks work. – The only idea is keep them simple and easy. – Have a loyalty card area where guests may swipe as they walk in, and they are entered in the “Happy Hour Handicapping” giveaway from 12 pm – 3 pm. – Every half hour draw three names for players to win a month’s worth of free programs ( two per day max) or a $10 food and beverage voucher to be used in the next 48 hours. There would be seven drawings and you may be surprised at how many stick around.

9. – With every purchase allow players to enter for tickets to the marquee event, dining area, or a merchandise prize. – The names will be drawn on a target weekend and players must be present to win. – See how many come out that day.

10. – All management must spend time on the floor. – Being available to players makes them feel you care, and by just allowing them to bend an ear goes a long way.

11. – Have an active “visit other tracks” schedule. – Get with other close tracks and have a reciprocal deal where you’ll bus some of your players for the VIP treatment of free seating, programs, lunch, and winner’s circle photo for the group. -When gamblers feel appreciated they become more loyal. I watched a high end player who was receiving a huge rebate from betting at home, but he still came to the track to enjoy the camaraderie.

12. – Act as if the players mean the world. – If you drop back and think about it they really do. – They have kept the lights on for years, and it is time to re-invest as the ‘build it and they will come’ days are over.

13. – Food and beverage are a big money maker. – Have a sports bar type menu with great prices. The races bring them in and the food keeps them around longer. No more cold hot dogs or $8 hamburgers.

14. – Have an area where players can visit to have data printed. – If they like Winning Ponies, now they can come to the track and have a place where it can be printed in minutes for a small charge. – Some don’t like the program or DRF, and that is fine. Give them a place where they can pick up their data. – This area can also be a reservation station, customer service booth, and some may even be able to sell lottery tickets. – Make it easy for players when they arrive.

15. – Keep the place well lit, TV’s in working order, and a clean facility. Now add in quality food at a fair price, and the possibility of winning a prize just for being there. – If you think this is all too much, just take a look around your local track if it’s still in operation and think if you would enjoy this place. We are gravitating to playing from home on cold snowy days, or when the place is packed to the gills on Derby Day. Ok, that’s fine. The goal is to get two-three more trips from each player per month, and you’ll start seeing a difference in the bottom line.


If you’re not sold, give it a good think. – Talk to other players and actively speak to the management who are roving the floor. – They are your ear for change, and when you fail to speak up, they’ll never know what’s on your mind. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies !