On its PlayersBoycott.org website, HANA plays a little footloose and fancy free with the numbers to make the California takeout increase seem more odious to horseplayers than it actually is.
On Jan 01, 2011 California Exacta Takeout will Increase by 9.7% to 22.68% - giving California one of the highest exacta takeout rates in North America.In fact, the rates are going up from 20.68%, an increase of 2% and 3% respectively. If we were talking about dollar amounts, you would correctly say that the price is going up 9.7% from $20.68 to $22.68, and 14.51% from $20.68 to $23.68. But percentage points are percentage points, and we generally express such changes in absolute terms, not by percentages of percentages. If the mortgage rates go up from 4% to 5%, we say that the rate has gone up by one percentage point, not by 25%.
On Jan 01, 2011 California Trifecta Takeout will Increase by 14.51% to 23.68%.
That's despite the fact that a change in percentage can have different implications for the dollar amounts involved. Cangamble correctly points out that an increase from 3% to 4% on a line of credit means a 33% increase in payments. But that's a random example; the percentage dollar increase varies with the rate. If it increases from 9% to 10%, the payments would increase 11%. If you're borrowing from Cash Call and the rate goes from 99% to 100%, then the payments increase by only 1%.
Similarly, and in the pari-mutuel world, an increase in takeout percentage can mean different things for different people. On Monday, approximately $967,000 was bet at Santa Anita on exactas. Under the present takeout of 20.68%, the house takes out just around $200,000, and returns $767,000 to the players. When the new rate of 22.68% takes effect, the house would take some $219,315, and return the remaining $747,685. The increase to the state of $19,315 is HANA's 9.7% "takeout increase." But the decrease in the payout to players is only around 2.5%. So I think that HANA is using deceptive numbers to make their case. (And some in the racing press has bought right into it.) Whatsmore....and I'm sure I'll get flamed for saying this....I think that a reasonable person could make the case that increasing its take by 10 to 15 percent with the goal of increasing purses while costing players "only" a small percentage of winnings is not an unreasonable nor harshly unfair way to address the crisis faced by the industry in the state.
What exactly is my point here? Well, reader Indulto proposes that the boycott rubs me the wrong way, and I'd concede that point. HANA annoys me with, among other things, their silly track ratings, as is apparent if you've been following my posts on the group, and I'll admit that my perception of this matter is shaded by that. On the other hand though, it seems to me that there's a high level of animosity on the part of the boycott proponents towards the CHRB and TOC; I've read posts and comments in which the criticism of those groups has become highly personal. Maybe that's why, as some commenters on this site have noted, they don't project nearly the same animosity towards other racing jurisdictions with even higher takeouts on some bets than will be the case in California.
Having said that, I'll reiterate that I'm not in favor of higher takeouts, and I think that the increase in California is short-sighted and likely to fail in its quest to attract large high-quality fields through higher purses. But, as I've said (perhaps inelegantly and in a regrettable pique of anger), horseplayers have it pretty good these days. Sitting at their computers and with their HANA takeout charts as their guide if takeout is of primary importance to their goals, they can pick and choose from virtually any track in North America. So, boycott away if you wish. But, in my opinion, this is a local issue of relatively minor magnitude that is not worthy of investing a national movement. That should be saved, as steve in nc points out, for more profound causes. It's not like increasing takeout is a current fad spreading throughout the country that needs to be snuffed out. On the contrary, HANA has done an excellent job in pushing the issue of lower rates to the forefront of the industry's consciousness. California has a problem, and, like many businesses, they've decided to raise their prices. Don't play their tracks if you don't like it. But let the rest of us decide for ourselves.