Great article today over at Thoroughbred Times on the inefficiencies of OTB/online wagering. It's here.
This falls right in line with what we were discussing concerning confusing standards between states and such. Del Mar just closed their independent online betting site and I'm sure plenty of places would love to do the same. The overhead for developing, maintaining, and operating your own online betting site for each track/company must be really extensive. Let the big corporations like Churchill Down Inc. run TwinSpires.com, they can foot the bill. Smaller operators can pay the fees to be part of the site(s) but still bring in their fair share of the handle.
States that are trying to protect their own "turf" are just making their own tracks waste money. Why have NYRacing.com (or whatever) and TwinSpires, and BetXpress, and Inidianabetting.com, and CaliRacing.com, and etc. etc. etc when you are just forcing the tracks to operate nearly independently and spend money on a product and process they really don't have to? We've already seen the OTB issues in New York nearly bring down the NYRA. Why would you codify that same issue into law?
This is a legistlation issue, and knowing that we can't even get gambling passed in KY, lord knows how you get everyone to approve a national OTB online site(s). There clearly isn't a panacea here, but what if you could bring overhead/operational costs down from 85% of the handle to 20%? That is MILLIONS of dollars a day that goes back to the tracks/owners/trainers and bettors. Really you're talking about 7% now of total handle goes to both tracks and horsemen. If that can push 25%, we're talking about real money now.
But on the flip side, when you're talking about expanding betting, you see how the current OTB system doesn't mean a whole lot to anyone but Bettors. When you're talking about the Industy of Thoroughbred Racing, you cannot simply define that as bettors getting good returns. That's a huge part of it, but there is far more. You need low overhead costs, and that's where getting people to physically come to the track really counts. Whether you have OTB or not, there will always have to be a real life track with stables, grandstands, and betting windows (unless you're really into those weird computer simulated races, but they're really, really weird).
But as an article, it is great food for thought since it really demonstrates the counter-intuitivity of the current OTB system. Dollars spent AT the track are 85% more valuable than those same dollars spent away from the track. So go bet today!