Did Los Alamitos Takeout Increase Hurt Handle? - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Did Los Alamitos Takeout Increase Hurt Handle?

Caroline Betts, an associate professor in the University of Southern California economics department, has published two graphs on the website of the Horseplayers Association of North America on the effect of a takeout increase on handle and the number of races run at Los Alamitos. One graph displays how the number of racing opportunities declined at Los Alamitos one week after a takeout increase was approved by the California Horse Racing Board and went into effect in January 2010. The other graph shows how handle fell after the increase in takeout.

From what I understand after communicating with Betts, handle fell at a lower rate than the number of races (Los Alamitos went from four nights per week to three, and also reduced the number of races per night). In other words, my reading of it (without the raw data) is that average handle per race has gone up despite the increase in takeout. Lowering the supply of races managed to increase demand (and presumably the average size of the fields at Los Alamitos). The night eliminated, Thursday, was the weakest night of the week for Los Alamitos, in terms of handle.

Just before that 2% increase in takeout went into effect at Los Alamitos, HANA president Jeff Platt wrote an open letter to horseplayers suggesting they could help reverse the move by not wagering on Los Alamitos races. He also predicted in the letter if the takeout increase was successful, other tracks would attempt to do the same thing. He was right about that, as tracks and horsemen pushed for legislation to increase takeout on exotic wagers from 20.68% to either 22.68% or 23.68% on California's Thoroughbred races.

Many horseplayers who are lathered up over the pending increase on exotic wagers in California have jumped on these statistics as irrefutable evidence that handle will fall after takeout increases Jan. 1 for Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields. But Santa Anita is reducing the number of days from five to four a week during the month of January and February, so is it possible the average handle per race will rise, just as it apparently has done at Los Alamitos?

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