Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota, near the Twin Cities, has taken an admirable step toward making its pari-mutuel offerings more competitive with betting alternatives.  Following is an excerpt from the racetrack’s announcement:

“Canterbury Park racing officials today announced a sweeping reduction in pari-mutuel takeout that will result in [Canterbury Park] offering a wagering product priced lower, on average, than any track in the country.  With win, place, show takeout set at 15 percent and all exotic wagers at 18 percent, Canterbury Park will be the best horse racing wagering opportunity in the United States when its 69-day meet begins May 20.

Racing and gaming industry economists suggest that handle, the amount of money wagered, will increase substantially as takeout is reduced.  Canterbury officials are confident that bettors will embrace the lower takeout and continually improving quality of racing with field size that regularly exceeds the national average.”

Previously, Canterbury Park had takeout rates of 17% on win, place, show bets and 23% on exotics.  Thus the new takeout rates amount to an 11.8% reduction on win, place show bets and a 21.7% decrease on exotic wagers.

How do Canterbury Park takeout percentages stack up against takeout rates at some well-known racetracks?

Aqueduct and Belmont take 16% on win, place and show wagers and 24% on exactas and trifectas.  Churchill Downs charges 17.5% on win, place and show bets and 22% on exactas and trifectas.  Keeneland takes 16% on win, place, and show wagers and 19% on exactas and trifectas.  Santa Anita takes 15.43% on win, place, show bets , 22.68 on exactas, and 23.68% on trifectas.  Saratoga charges 16% on win, place, and show wagers, 18.5% on exactas, and 24% on trifectas.

A couple of Canadian racetracks have a slightly lower win, place, show takeout rate than Canterbury Park and a few U. S. racetracks come close.  However, no racetrack has lower takeout than Canterbury Park on both win, place, and show wagers and exotics.

It will be informative to see how Canterbury’s handle responds to reduced takeout rates in its upcoming season.  The keys are for track management to combine lower takeout rates with full fields…and to widely disseminate the information about the most bettor-friendly takeout rates to potential customers.

The view here is that it would require a takeout rate of 10%-11% on win, place, show wagers and 12%-13% on exotics to dramatically increase pari-mutuel wagering in the United States.  A significant empirical test of the effects of takeout rates on handle is about to ensue in New Jersey, which in mid-May is going to offer New Jersey residents exchange wagering.  The takeout rate will be 12%.  Bettors will be able to lock in fixed odds and will be able to place wagers while a race is in process.

Copyright © 2016 Horse Racing Business