RACING PROMOTED AS ENTERTAINMENT OR GAMBLING?

A South Florida lifestyle magazine in January 2018 carried an advertisement for the then-upcoming Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park that read in part:

“Giddy Up

It’s a Party.  With a Racetrack.  And you’re invited.”

On the national telecast of the race, Belinda Stronach, chairwoman and president of the Stronach Group, which owns Gulfstream Park, explained to the audience that the intent with the Peagsus World Cup is to promote horse racing by “wrapping an entertainment experience around the on-track experience.”

She went on to say that although horse racing/wagering is the “core” product, the Pegasus World Cup is intended to appeal to non-racing fans by emphasizing an opportunity for having an enjoyable time.

Horse racing per se is supported by a comparatively small percentage of all bettors, who wager the vast majority of the money bet.  The future of horse racing depends on enough prolific bettors like them coming into the game in the years ahead.  To this end, the view here is that the Stronach Group is on target with its strategy to promote the Pegasus World Cup to the general public as entertainment rather than gambling.

Whereas the sport’s current large-scale bettors respond to rebates, pick 6 carryovers, takeout rates, and other such monetary incentives, the non-racing fan and the $2 player care more about horse racing as entertainment.

A large portion of the people who attend the Triple Crown events, and the annual seasons at Del Mar, Keeneland, and Saratoga, may not frequent another racetrack all year.  However, some small but unknown percentage of the people who attend–and who are new to racing–will develop an interest and turn into steady bettors.  Some will even become so enamored that they will take part in handicap contests and follow and wager on horse racing on a year-around basis.

For highly select events, like those mentioned above, “wrapping an entertainment experience around the on-track experience” is a logical strategy for cultivating racing’s potential customers of tomorrow.  However, the entertainment approach would be ludicrous for, say, promoting Aqueduct on frigid winter days with sparse crowds at the racetrack.  That takes a gambling-focused appeal.

Copyright © 2018 HorseRacingBusiness

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