by Thoroughbred Idea Foundation
BettorIQ's recent podcast, “A Sports Betting Education,” featured professional bettor Rob Pizzola, who was asked what might motivate him to model or wager on a new sport.
“First and foremost, what does the market looks like?…Ultimately, that's the first thing. The second is what data is available. Is it public data? Is it private? Do I have to purchase it? is it reliable? You want to talk about emotions in sports betting, the instability you have to deal with, with some of the data I have used, sometimes will drive me up a wall. If both are quality, then I'll venture into it.”
As we addressed last week, the price of wagering on racing is already too high. But when it comes to attracting new players, data is a monumental nugget. In recent weeks, the concept of “free data” has blossomed into reality. Churchill Downs, through Brisnet, is offering free past performances for all of its races. Churchill also offers a host of expert analysis and wagering tips on its site at no cost or additional customer registration.
In a more far-flung example of free data, Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, Manitoba opens its live season on Monday, May 25 and is taking steps to reach out to customers in a novel fashion. Assiniboia live streams morning workouts via YouTube each day, yielding some broadcasts which run in excess of five hours. While identifying individual horses would be a challenging task, and there are steps that could be taken to alleviate that (see our piece from October 2018), such acts are leaps forward in the right direction.
Assiniboia is registering customers to receive free programs via email or will even deliver printed programs to local residents upon request for the first three race days of the season.
Curated workout videos courtesy of XBTV are incredibly popular, with the Daily Racing Form's Marcus Hersh noting a week ago via Twitter that “having work video access has been the best thing in American handicapping I've found in years.”
Some elements of free data ARE creeping into the sport.
Some elements of improved pricing DO find their way onto the betting menu too.
Charles Town announced this week the introduction of a pick five with a 12% takeout. If no one picks all five winners on a given day, 75% of the net pool carries to the next day while the next highest number of winners will share a consolation.
This is progress, and while such progress is admittedly nowhere close to the level the greater industry needs, it is well worth celebrating and supporting positive change.