JOE MIGLIORE, West Point Thoroughbreds
I think the one answer you are going to hear from everyone will be to focus on lowering takeout. While I agree that is a must for the longevity of the game going forward, I’d like to highlight another area that I’ve always felt was a major roadblock to attracting new players and retaining existing ones. The easiest thing tracks can do is to provide new and existing players with free access to accurate, clear, and concise data and information. Past performances, replays, workouts, trainer and jockey statistics, track biases and trends, interviews with connections pre- and post-race, stewards’ decisions and race charts, all of this information should be made readily available and FREE to access for patrons.
There are countless times I find myself at the track with people who are having one of their first racetrack experiences. Whether it’s through my role as a syndicator with West Point Thoroughbreds or simply with close childhood friends from the Long Island and NYC area, I always end up trying to explain what must look like hieroglyphics to beginners in a racing form or program they probably purchased on the way in for $10. With beginners, this challenge is at most times insurmountable without a guide who can put things in familiar terms. A few tracks have made well-intentioned moves and employed people to help newbies learn how to bet while at the races, but only so much can be learned in short conversations in person as horses approach the gate. Comprehensive online tutorials should be created and made readily available to newer players.
The few that do get over the hump and really begin to grasp the handicapping concept are often turned off after seeing how inadequate, antiquated, and expensive it is to continue playing. How can we expect gamblers to choose a sport they know little about, with complexities that often take much trial and error to grasp, over a football game on Sunday without providing them every tool necessary to comprehend a race? If we don’t start doing so, I’m afraid they won’t.