Positive Results For Reduced Tioga Take-Out

Published: June 21, 2010 10:13 am EDT

Tioga Downs made headlines this spring when a reduction in take-out on wagers to the minimum allowed by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board was announced


The results are in for the first 18 live cards (May 1 - June 13) and, in the face of handle declines across the entirety of North American horse racing, it appears as though there is merit to the theory of price reduction.

Overall handle is up 4.6% thus far, as compared to the 8.74% decline Standardbred Canada is reporting to date for our harness neighbours to the north. Handle figures published in Blood Horse magazine for US thoroughbred racing reveal a negative trend in handle of 8.37% for the first five months of 2010. No figures are available for US harness racing at this time.

The handle on Tioga's exported signal has increased by a healthy 9.9% over figures for the same period (18 programs) in 2009. Live handle on Tioga's races is 8.6 % below 2009 levels, with those negative numbers (at least in part) reflecting some unseasonably cold and wet weather in May, even for upstate New York.

Regional VP of Racing & Simulcast Jason Settlemoir had this to say, “The export numbers are encouraging and we are in hopes that they will grow even more now that we have added Pick Six Sundays with a guaranteed pool of $6,000. All of us at Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs are committed to leading the way when it comes to promotions, giveaways and other ideas for the sport of harness racing, if anyone ever has an idea that they would like to share please let us know.”

In yet another effort to encourage play, the Tioga Downs website now offers a page geared toward information on handicapping the races. The site includes a link for TrackMaster programs, race replays, updated info on each card (including driver choices), a list of all locations taking the Tioga signal and a link to the USTA's 'How To Bet' page.

Unique to the site is a handicapping contest on the Tioga races sponsored by the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) and its paceadvantage.com forum. Four expert opinions, two human and two computer generated (including the 'Chatsworth Consortium' program graciously donated by TrackMaster and the USTA and currently leading the contest), are offered on all races in an effort to provide those unfamiliar with Tioga racing some welcome guidance on the races. Those 'Chatsworth Consortium' picks regularly sell for $10 per card, but will be available free on this page for the entirety of the Tioga meet.

Tioga races live each Friday and Saturday at 6:50 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 1:30 p.m. and should be available at a simulcast location near you.




Excessive track take out is the 800lb gorilla in the room that is killing any chance the race game has to turn itself around and to start competing with other forms of gambling that they did not have to deal with 20 or 30 years ago. Poker and sports are now very popular and can be played 24/7 The take outs in these forms of gambling are a fraction of the take out for those of us who want to play the races.

Tioga downs has the right idea and have lowered the track take out all they can by law, but the reality is to compete with other forms of gambling and to have any chance at all of retaining the few big players that are left, or to get some of the many, many big players back who got feed up with excessive take outs and left, the take outs have to be lowered to a maximum of 10% in all pools. I myself have not played a race in over a year and will never bet another one until this happens.

Jeff Gural is the only major player in the race game that seems to get what excessive track take out is doing to the sport. Simply put it is killing it. At what point in time will other major players in the race game catch on to this, the truth is they probably won't until it is to late, which is very disappointing.

It is as simple as this you cannot compete with other forms of gambling unless you are competitive, the race game stopped competing for customers a long time ago. The days of them being able to take people to the cleaners every time they go to the windows is over. Either sharpen up and address the problem and get out of the 1960's and 70's when times were good or be prepared to see one track closure after another in the next 20 years.

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