TIF Issues Alarming Report on Computer Assisted Wagering in CA


Nine of the 11 largest betting pools have shown declines from all customers except computer-assisted wagering groups over the past four years, while the handle of the largest CAW groups grew dramatically, according to an extensive study of data released Monday by the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation (TIF).

“The Thoroughbred Idea Foundation's analysis of data from Del Mar between 2018 and 2022 showed on an inflation-adjusted basis, per-race (or per-opportunity basis for certain bet types) CAW betting, from what is believed to be 17 accounts, has grown tremendously in the last five years-up 46% in the superfecta pool, 49% in trifectas, 78% in pick fives, 128% in the show pool and a staggering 403% in the pick six pool,” reads the report, concluding, “The trend for all other customers is disturbing.”

This trend is problematic; the report concludes that major problems is that the increases in CAW betting, due to rebates, does not make up for the handle decline from other sources. That has a deleterious effect on purses, whose soul source of funding in California is through wagering.

The report, “Sharks & Minnows–Managing the Growing Imbalance in Racing Wagering Markets,” is available on the TIF website, racingthinktank.com.

CAW bettors receive rebates on the takeout because of the large volumes they bet, but they quote Del Mar president Josh Rubenstein as saying that those rebates will be limited at the Del Mar summer meet–at least in the win pool.

“We get that late odds fluctuation is frustrating to players,” Rubinstein said, referring to the fact that CAW players place their bets based on their perceived value in the odds close to post time, which creates major odds shifts–often after the horses have left the gate.

“Beginning with our upcoming summer meet, [we] will be implementing new protocols for CAW players that are designed to limit participation in the win pools at two minutes to post. Based on what we've monitored and analyzed from other tracks, we believe these protocols will reduce late odds changes.” TIF reported that the largest rebates will be given to bets made with more than three minutes to post, a smaller amount at two minutes, and the smallest rebate at under two minutes. Non-rebated customers pay 15.43%, the report says.

“Limiting CAW guardrails to merely a rebate change in the win pool, while potentially helpful in reducing some late odds changes, amounts to little more than window dressing for mainstream customers,” TIF concludes. “CAW betting in Del Mar's exotic pari-mutuel pools, particularly the trifecta, superfecta, pick three, four, five and six pools has been substantial. Play from Elite (Turf Club, a top CAW) and RGS (Racing and Gaming Services, another) customers exceeded 32% of total handle in each of those bet types last year and was 38% of pick five handle.

“CHRB data does not delineate how much is staked on the early pick five, with its friendly 14% takeout to mainstream bettors, and how much is on the high takeout late pick five, with a 23.68% takeout rate. It is reasonable to expect the percentage of CAW play reflects their enormous pricing advantage over the public on the late pick five. Total handle figures do not tell the most accurate story. In nearly every pool offered by Del Mar, all non-Elite and RGS handle is declining.”

To read the full report, click here.

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