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Thursday, January 03, 2013

Fan Advisory Council

This below is the 2012 report by the New York Racing Fan Advisory Council.  It's worth a read; a commendable effort initiated by the Racing and Wagering Board last year in 2011.  The four members, including representation from the female and harness sets (albeit the same person) solicited opinion from a spectrum of New York horseplayers and this is what they came up with.  Below the document, I chime in with some random comments on some of the suggestions made.

Racing Fan Advisory Council 2012 Report

  While it seems track management has encouraged SAM usage to speed up transactions and reduce the number of live tellers needed, there were complaints at each forum about a lack of sufficient live tellers. Some bettors prefer giving their bet to a person and recognize this is a matter of providing customer service.
  I dunno....kind of thinking "get with the program" here.  I think that way when I drive up to the EZ Pass lane and see cars waiting in long lines to pay cash.  Then I might feel bad, knowing that some people may not have credit cards or just not have the money nor wherewithal to make advance deposits.  But that's not the case at a track; it's just people being lame for the most part.  I can see manned windows for preferred high-volume customers.  But otherwise, deal with it.

I can't believe people still wait on lines when there is no reason to do so if one just makes a bare effort to adapt to the scant technology involved with using a machine.  Not much more than using an ATM, and I'm sure many of those on line for people know how to use those. 

  Several fans also noted that signage for entry to the track via automobile or subway was poor, and that the address of the track should be revised for those using mobile devices for directions.
  Well, I've driven to these tracks so many times, I don''t notice about signs....except for this one, still there at the corner of Woodhaven and Rockaway Blvds.

But it's true about mobile devices.  My GPS is unable to direct me to Belmont via the highway; doesn't seem to know it's there.  It insists on taking me on a circuitous route of secondary roads, even as I approach closely on the Cross Island.

Here's an obvious one: 
  It was evident that the racing side of the Aqueduct facility is in great need of restoration and repair to accommodate fans. Several sections in the track side are run down, with some furniture and fixtures from the 1950s still in use. The contrast between the Resorts World side of the facility and the racing side is disturbing from a race fan’s perspective.
  I still haven't been there since it opened in the fall.  Never found a sweet spot last year, and there are even less options this year, assuming that those rooms at the back of the 2nd floor clubhouse [no longer necessary to make that distinction] are really being converted into a sports/simulcast bar.  I really have little desire to spend an afternoon there when [and  not so long ago, I swore that I'd never say this], I can play the races at home.  Of course, back when I said that, I wasn't able to bet and watch virtually every track in the country on my computer.  If you missed it, NYRA COO Ellen McClain complained to the NYRA board that Genting has not lived up to its commitment to help keep the place tidy, and that NYRA had to hire people to do it instead.  The Fan Advisory Council also mentioned some construction at the subway entrance; and, if I recall correctly, the subway access is something Genting was going to take care of too.  As I've mentioned previously, if Governor Cuomo is really so concerned about NYRA, perhaps he would read the riot act to a company hoping to win his favor for a future casino.

   At Saratoga and at all other tracks visited by the Council, fans expressed a desire for more expanded wagering options. 
 Really???  You don't have enough ways to bet??   What could possibly be missing?  Rolling grand slams??

              Allow “rolling” Grand Slam wagers in most races.

Oh, for heaven's sake.  Though I do know one person who would like that.

Jumping in on the harness side:
  ABC Classification: The return to this racing classification system has been announced at the Meadowlands and several fans spoke up to say they do not like this system as it is more unfair to the betting public than the current classification system.
  Not being an expert on the subject, I'll just say that this was the class system used at Roosevelt and Yonkers back in the good old days, and I recall it working quite well.  I understand that it must be a hodgepodge trying to figure it out now, with horses coming from all different sorts of conditions.  But it's clear and simple, and, once things flush out as time goes on, eliminates the guesswork of trying to class-assess different conditions.  (On the other hand, it eliminates the guesswork of trying to class-assess different conditions, thus eliminating a potential edge for those sharp enough to spot something the public doesn't.)  And I'm looking over some Meadowlands results charts and seeing some wide open betting contests in those races. 
  Have twilight races every Friday night throughout the summer.
Never switch to poly-track surface.

  Track operators should make WiFi available throughout the racing facilities so that fans can use tablets and other technology to download racing programs and access handicapping information at the tracks.
  Tricky one for tracks I think.  I know NYRA does have WiFi available (at least at Belmont and Saratoga), and there are compelling reasons from the fans' standpoint why they should.  But that also facilitates betting with ADWs that share a far smaller percentage of handle than if the patron bet on track.  So I can't really blame track operators if they are hesitant.
Many fans expressed displeasure regarding the large number of races carded at Saratoga, and in particular the large number of maiden races. Many felt that post times after 6 PM made for too long a day at the track. In additional, many fans believed that the quality of racing at Saratoga had diminished significantly and that the large number of races was, in part, a factor in this regard. Several fans believed that a smaller number of races could result in a product of higher quality.
  Personally, I like the long days at the Spa....and nobody is forcing anyone to stay past 6 PM if they find the day too long.  But the point about too many maiden races is surely valid.  And I've long been calling for five-day-a-week racing there, because the meet is too long.  But I don't think we'll see that until the meet is inevitably extended to run from the 4th of July through Labor Day...if then.  And as far as the "quality" of the races goes.....see my last post.  These days, "quality" to me means a big field (but not too big, 10 horses will do), and a competitive tote board.  And I think we saw a lot of that at Saratoga last summer.  I would however like to see early post times on holidays such as Memorial Day and the 4th of July.  Would be nice to be able to spend the day, be done at 4 PM and still make it home for the family BBQ.


Steve D said...

Wow, they pretty much lost me at "Rolling Grand Slams." This is a bet that handled $15,000 on Jan. 1st. It's effectively a giant sign announcing that these people have no idea what they are talking about. Kudos to you, Alan, for reading the entire report...that in itself is sacrifice for the greater good of New York Racing that few will be willing to make.

Charlie Davis said...

Good comments and I agree with all of them.

Rolling Grand Slam's? Give me a break.

Not enough tellers? Come on people, Google has a car that drives without your input, we can adapt to machines for our betting.

Too many races? Go home.

Regarding wifi, they can block access to ADW's like Keeneland does. Sure, there are ways around this, but at least it makes it harder to just type in the URL of your ADW. Without Wifi, my handicapping takes a lot more time for things like keying of scratches and changes, so wifi increases my handle.

El Angelo said...

Two retorts:

On expanding wagering options, I could get behind lowering minimums to 50 cents in trifectas and Pick Threes. I doubt that's what they're referring to.

On too many races, the problem I think isn't the number of races, it's how late the feature races go off, especially at Saratoga. (Some of us would like to get home before 7 pm and still have seen the main race of the day.) They could solve much of this problem by knocking the time between races down by 2-5 minutes, which I think would actually be an enormous step in the right direction for casual fans, who otherwise are sitting around doing little for long stretches of time at Saratoga or on Belmont Day.

jk said...

I do not miss using the NYRA tellers and their lame attempts to slow pay me.

One wager they should add is the triple trio which is offered in Hong Kong. You have to pick the first 3 to finish in 3 consecutive races. Fun bet with big payouts.

Anonymous said...

Further proof that NY bettors are Idiots.

Rolling Grand Slams.Hahahahahah!

steve in nc said...

I'm thinking the Rolling Grand Slam idea might have been offered with an entirely different meaning by the Rasta caucus at AQ.

Indulto said...

Considering the increasing average age of players, servicing those with low-vision is an important issue.

I was doing fine with SAMs until HOL introduced tiny screen machines with the display located further back from where one stands to operate them. At home, I can zoom the screen image to where I'm comfortable. Not at the track. Do I have to lug a laptop around with me to attend the races live?

Perhaps voice-recognition machines are one-answer, but some tellers actually are friendly, cheerful, and helpful. More of that kind can't hurt!

Anonymous said...

I understand what you're saying about live tellers; I use SAMs exclusively as most do. But listen to yourself - telling customers to "get with the program" is exactly the kind of response that earn NYRA the reputation of arrogant, not caring about the customer, etc. A lot of bettors are, if not elderly, at least not comfortable using the machines, and that's just the way it is at the track and in the world in general. NYRA would do well to accomodate this type of customer at the same time it caters to the more computer-savvy bettors. To do both is just good business.

jk said...

Bad news for the friends of AEG.

Racino probe targets Dems’ high rollers



The feds are grilling state Senate Democratic insiders as part of an explosive probe into an alleged Aqueduct casino bid-rigging scandal, The Post has learned.

Investigators are asking questions about the roles of then-Senate Democratic leaders John Sampson and Malcolm Smith and others who were accused of helping the Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG) land a multibillion-dollar casino contract three years ago, sources said.

Unknown said...

>> But listen to yourself - telling customers to "get with the program" is exactly the kind of response that earn NYRA the reputation of arrogant, not caring about the customer, etc.

Fair point.

Figless said...

A typical example of NYRA's get with the program arrogance is their failure to provide at least one human teller at the top of the Belmont stretch when they rent out those picnic areas. The folks attending those outings are usually novices and some first time starters who could use some assistance. I've been on a number of these trips and these people usually wear out a path to the nearest live window which is sometimes a full eighth of a mile away. Most do not persevere for the entire card. At Monmouth, their picnic area provides three open windows with humans and a bunch of machines.

Anonymous said...

Goodbye Sabini and Amo

jk said...

Soccer is coming to the overflow lot at Belmont along with a hotel and retail adjacent to the track.