December 22, 2012

Andrew Beyer had it exactly correct in his Dec. 18 Sports column, “New deal is a jackpot for Maryland horse racing.” One statement in particular rang truest: “But if the Maryland Jockey Club wants to attract the attention of horse players, there is one thing that it could and should do: reduce the takeout.”

The “takeout” is what the track keeps from every dollar wagered. As the takeout increased over the past two decades, the industry’s death spiral accelerated. It is tough to sustain a viable audience of horse players when you squeeze them every day with such high fees.

With the new financial life pumped into Maryland horse racing, the most logical thing to do would be to slash the takeout to the lowest in the nation.

This would attract as much simulcast money as possible, while also driving local participation higher. The wagering totals would explode, increasing the tracks’ profitability.

And I’d kick it off with a  “zero-takeout day,” with every penny bet going back to the horse players. 

That would be headline news in the racing world.

Alan Odenthal, Laurel