After a few articles on the challenges that the racing industry is facing and a firm belief that promotional efforts are mostly misdirected, I would like to highlight a fundamental problem that could hold the key to finding solutions for our sport, writes Leon Smuts.
We like to think of racing as the brain game in gambling and not some mindless selection of numbers or reel spins that requires massive doses of lady luck to make even a dent in the extreme odds of landing a big win.
Yet these games are far more successful than racing at attracting new interest and a big following and this is incredible if the difficulty of winning the top prize in lotto or a mega machine jackpot at the casino is fully understood.
Racing has the ability to produce its own dream bets that will rival the lotto and casino jackpots and on some occasions we have already seen this with very attractive Pick 6 pools, especially on our big race days. The small customer base prevents this from being a regular occurrence at other times of the year and normally requires a carry over or a number of carry overs to produce a really meaningful and attractive pool.
This brings me to the problem that has long held racing back and that makes even our biggest pools less attractive than they should be.
Skilled players have a definite advantage, as they should have, and will in all likelihood win more regularly than novices or less skilled players, but even skill does not guarantee a favorable outcome in most instances where a really big pay out occurs.
It ultimately comes down to a great deal of good fortune and often a big bank roll if you are to land a single ticket pay out from our top exotic.
It is possible to miss many a life changing pay out by a single result, a short head finish or a photo finish or an objection going against the player and with little to show even when having almost everything right.
For experienced players this does not present too much of a problem as it is extremely disappointing but with a structured approach could still result in a positive pay day when having a few successful single race bets around their exotic selections.
For the new player and smaller players these potential big dividends are almost impossible to win even when playing a percentage bet and this is where our sport loses a valuable opportunity to attract a bigger interest.
I have been in marketing and racing long enough to see how this issue is standing in the way of promoting racing to a bigger group of players and have no doubt that most of racing’s problems can be addressed through a more creative product approach.
Although racing has numerous and very worthy products, they have all been developed for a single purpose which is to extract maximum participation from the current customer base. To this end they are delivering highly favorable results but will never succeed in an acquisition capacity as they critically ignore the value of a more entertaining and potentially rewarding experience, especially to new and smaller players.
As an experienced marketer I have over my career turned down a number of attractive positions as I did not believe in the products or services that I was expected to promote.
It is critical to believe in what you are selling which is why more marketable products are needed to ensure racing’s return to popularity and profitability.
By introducing a range of products with highly favourable player elements and capable of producing guaranteed winners and big winners on a regular basis it would be far easier to promote the sport and to get buy in from both the target market and the sales force.
I have made it my life’s work to design games that recognizes and rewards skill properly, will produce guaranteed winners every game, create guaranteed millionaires periodically and will give all players an equal chance of winning.
With these formats trust will be created in the product, the operator and the sport and an afternoon’s entertainment and affordability will be provided for good measure, plus a realistic chance of winning a really decent dividend.
Racing can make itself so much more attractive during the crucial attraction and skills development phase with the knowledge that the real turnover gain will present itself longer term in the form of well documented annuity benefits, as skilled players seldom leave the game.
Operators need to offer products designed for maximum player and industry benefits to make racing a long term economic proposition for both parties.
Show the target market what racing is about in a format that supports the promotion and the showcasing of the competitive nature of the sport.
The funding of local racing is crucial and can get a huge injection with the right approach. There is everything to gain and very little to lose with a player centric product mindset, especially as the local racing performance has been so disappointing.