Wagering on a horse to lose in California? You bet!
Sound crazier than California? Well, California lawmakers have approved it, and it's now awaiting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature. Here's how it would work: You would act as bookmaker, setting odds and accepting bets. If the horse doesn't win, you keep the bettors' money, minus a percentage charged by the state-sponsored venue. And it's all legal!
Finally, a chance to make up for every wager I made on that pedigreed favorite who faded like a lame nag, or that longshot that showed why it was a longshot.
We all know how to bet on losers right? I've been doing it ever since cutting high school in suburban Los Angeles to spend the afternoon at Hollywood Park. Now I'm going to get rich. Heck, I might even accrue enough money to buy my own Thoroughbred.
I've also harbored fantasies of being a bookie, minus the leg-breaking. I'd look good in a visor while chewing on a week-old
cigar. In-hock pony players everywhere should chomp at the bit for this chance.
Not so fast, warns Jay Privman, the national correspondent for the Daily Racing Form. Taking bets on odds that you set so
they'll be attractive to other bettors is far from a sure thing.
"You have to have the knowledge," he told WalletPop. "This isn't something for neophytes to jump into. You better make sure you have handicapping skills. Booking action based on a name isn't going to cut it. There are sharp people looking to exploit inefficient prices, just like the stock market. You don't want to be a guppy in those waters."
The proposal is part of a larger bill, originally written by state Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles), to provide a shot in the hind quarters for the Golden State's slumping horse-racing game. Attendance at tracks and simulcast facilities plummeted 25 percent between 2004 and 2009, according to a Los Angeles Times article about the legislation. Charging a percentage of any exchange between punters will generate more money for track operators and winning horse owners, and could help attract the Breeders Cup on an annual basis. So goes the reasoning.
Britain already has what is politely called "exchange wagering." New Jersey lawmakers have also left the starting gate in considering it. Proponents say it's a win-win, more money, healthier industry. Opponents fear the intrusion of a criminal element, which has its way of making sure that horses it bets on to lose finish far out of the money.
But in horse racing parlance, this idea has barely reached the quarter pole. As it stands now, the exchange wagering would be delayed until 2012. "There will be many twists and turns on the way to this being active," Privman said.
Still, that's plenty of time to brush up on your losing skills.