The New York Post and Daily News each recently had a small item noting that the takeout (monies wagered that the track keeps, as opposed to returning to bettors holding winning tickets) at NYRA tracks has gone up by one per cent. While the casual fan might not miss the small reduction in the winning payout when he or she is lucky enough to cash a ticket, the regular horse player — the type of customer racing needs to retain to survive — may find that extra one per cent the straw that breaks the camel’s back. If you don’t believe me, look in the paper for results from Hialeah Park, in Florida. You won’t find them, because that track, once thriving (and one of the most beautiful venues for horse racing in the country) is out of business. Yes, public interest in horse racing has been declining, but three other thoroughbred tracks survive in Florida, and Hialeah, immediately before its demise, had the highest takeout by far. In any business, giving the customer less value seldom increases patronage. When the reduction in value comes from a rise in price, which is transparent, it is, when justified, usually tolerated. When it comes from some hidden action, such as a reduction in contents or, as here, increase in takeout, the customer who discovers the ruse often feels cheated and resentful. Shame on our government for perpetrating this one.
Bad day for thoroughbred racing in New York