by Frank Cotolo
Imagine a pari-mutuel race meeting with 30 races daily, split into a day and a night program and offering win, place and show, single-race exotics and multi-race wagers extended in scope and range, complete with carry-overs and void of jackpot exotics. Not enough? As addendums, imagine there is a lottery for the day and the night program, giving free Pick tickets in a continual stream throughout the day and night races.
All that is missing are the gladiators and the roaring lions. Seriously, though, that kind of a meet would be a modern-day spectacle even without gladiators and roaring lions.
Let Alternative Actions (AA) explain by dipping into horse-racing history:
The five boroughs of New York City sizzled when the state legalized off-track wagering on pari-mutuel horse racing. From the sofas of one-family houses and apartments to the stools and booths of neighborhood bars and from the aisles of supermarkets to the handball courts of small and large local parks a whole new tribe of pedestrian punters emerged, having a slew of new places to hang out and spend money. They were called O T B (Off-Track Betting) parlours.
Hundreds of OTB storefronts surfaced in no time since they were inexpensive pre-fabricated outlets, even though not a one truly met the definition of a parlor, that is, the OTB outlets were not establishments where people could sit, talk and relax. They were more like dens of drabness. When crowded (which was most of the time they were open), they were smoke-filled lobbies. A non-smoker could easily second-hand-inhale a pack every hour, experiencing all of the public intimacy available in work-day rush-hour subway car.
Of course, the debilitated atmosphere did not matter to anyone who wanted to make a bet on afternoon thoroughbred races and/or “the trotters” at night. Unemployed people (the stick-around crowd) made OTB parlors day-to-night hangouts. Full-time workers (the come-and-go crowd) visited during their lunch breaks, sometimes during their short coffee breaks and as they walked home from subway stations and bus stops after work.
The virulent draw was the ability to bet on races from early afternoon to late night and doing so without the pressure of driving in traffic on local streets, avenues or inter-borough highways (it also wiped out go-to-the-track expenses). NY-OTB shops were sprinkled across the compressed shopping landscape of commercial streets. Inside of each, cashiers sat behind square holes in the wall to take wagers for as few as 18 pari-mutuel races a day. Veteran, novice and nomad bettors swarmed the likes of them.
Now, return to the first paragraph, read it again and come back here:
I know nothing about regulations when it comes to scheduling a race meet other than a racing commission gives a track so many dates to race in a season or a year or whenever. And you need horses and horsepeople, etcetera. AA simply reveals a big picture, which is the best way to inspire continuation of a concept. In this case, we introduce the Super-Meet Spectacle. What we know about it is outlined in the first paragraph. Now, let’s unpack it with ideal elements, leaving the wrinkles to be ironed out (address your ideas).
Firstly, what we call the Super-Meet Spectacle does not have dark days. If the track is awarded 13 or 30 program day or nights they will not be separated. With betting access at anyone’s fingertips, having dark days is moot. It will be one program after another.
Aside from win, place and show, every program will offer multi-race exotics. Extending the menu in scope and range includes making every multi-race exotic part of a “rolling stream.” Daily Doubles become Pick 2s, along with Pick-3s, -4s, -5s and -6s. If there are carry-over pots, they follow the order of the streams and in the bettors’ interest none are ever jackpots. This way each multi-race bet has (to-be-determined) cashing power due to consolation pay outs, so some bettors get money back for hitting “X” amount of correct winners on their tickets.
Is it possible to make matters more appealing? Of course, it’s a spectacle, is it not? Let’s also present this: every program offers a lottery drawing that awards “X” number of free guaranteed leg winners for Pick-4, -5 and -6 tickets.
But wait, there is more. The tour de force is the modern-day bettor’s answer to years of praying for a better chance to make more money on wagers, so here is perhaps the biggest draw of the spectacle’s amazing properties–the lowest takeout in pari-mutuel racing.
With all the races and all the pools, it is no stretch to expect a high handle each day but high is no standard for a spectacle; let’s break some records and let the takeout percentages for all types of wagers collapse — perhaps to a one-figure percentage — and the roar of the crowd — live or online — will be deafening.