OPINIONS: Make the Betting Simple, by TK Kuegler


By TK Kuegler

Make the Betting Simple

Whenever I explain to a non-racing fan that I am a horse racing advocate, invariably, they ask me about the gambling aspect of the business.  If they have ever been to the track or at least have a passing understanding of how gambling works in the sport, they always say that it was too complicated for them to participate.   For the handicappers reading this, they may actually be thinking that it is the complexities that actually attract you to the sport.  The infinite number of variables and possibilities to calculate and factor into a wager is what makes the sport your gambling entertainment choice.   But the point of my articles is to talk about attracting fresh gamblers to the sport.  How do you attract more people willing to put money into the pari mutuel pools?   So with that question in mind, here are some ideas:

Allow for themed bets – Imagine some novice that comes to the track for the first time.  What if we allowed him or her to go to a window and bet a theme?  “I want to bet on every horse that Edgar Prado is riding all day?” or “I want to bet on whichever horse was sired by Tapit.”  or even “Any jockey wearing orange silks is my bet for the day?”  I know for the experienced handicapper this sounds like lunacy, but for attracting novices to be engaged and entertained, it plays.  

Flat amount betting – People love betting exotics but can be totally confused about what it will cost them.  Solve this by allowing bettors to walk up and say, “I want to bet $10 on these horses in my Pick 3.”  Instead of having them having to calculate the total bet and being surprised, just back into the correct amount bet.

Create more winners – I know this one sounds impossible, but nothing will get people more hooked on gambling on races than winning.  So, create more winners in the same way that fantasy sports creates more winners. Allow for simple heads up betting so 50% of the people are winners.  Allow people to walk up to a window, pick a horse, and be matched with someone else who has picked another horse.  Whichever horse finishes higher in a race wins twice his or her money back (minus the handle of course).

All of these are outside of the box thoughts, and all of them come with technical, logistical, and regulatory hurdles.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t try and go over those hurdles to make things happen.

TK Kuegler has spent the last 25 years as a startup founder and investor. He is now managing partner of Wasabi Ventures Stables, which is bringing the startup thoughts and ideas to the racing industry.

You can follow TK on twitter: @TKKuegler, and follow Wasabi Stables: @WasabiStables. Check out Wasabi’s latest venture, the “Co-Ownership Club” at www.wasabistables.com

TK Kuegler bio courtesy of theracingbiz.com.

2 thoughts on “OPINIONS: Make the Betting Simple, by TK Kuegler”

  1. A few comments.

    1st, head to head bets are accepted on big races in Vegas. Pool size is an issue, as well as good matchups. Won’t work for a Tuesday at Parx, or even most Saturdays at Santa Anita, but in the right scenario, I’d bet them.

    As for the other two ideas, they’re a great way to separate fools from their money. You might get a few bucks out of the $1 beer crowd. They’re not a good way to create long term players though. Let’s face it, if you can’t correctly calculate what your P3 or Tri will cost and what the base bet should be, you’re not going to last long at this game. If you can’t play a show parlay to enjoy your day then you also aren’t going to last.

    Price the game right and you’ll get new players. Until that happens, everything else is just lipstick on a pig.

    1. Thanks for the thoughts, Charlie.

      I guess the key is that I am not necessarily trying to create “long term players”. I am trying to create long term fans of the sport.

      My supposition is that we can create fans that are not gamblers at all and that can only help the sport.

      My mother loves the sport and makes her small bets when she comes to the track, but nothing is fancy and she barely reads the form to make a choice.

      But my mom is great for the sport because she tells all of her friends how much she enjoys going to the track.

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