Horse Racing Rounds the Turn: Gambling For the Fun of It

ABSTRACT - Horse racing and playing the horses inspire a variety of connotations. On one hand they conjure up pictures of pageantry: gentlemen sipping Mint Juleps and ladies wearing beautiful bonnets, while watching high-spirited and highly trained horses competing neck-and-neck to the finish line. On the other hand, horse racing also creates visions of unsavory types betting their last dollar on an excessively speculative wager that a long-shot will beat all odds and pay a fortune. This paper examines the unique characteristics of horse race gambling that set it apart from other forms of gambling and that identify a subculture of horse players. It presents data from participant observation and from a survey among horse race patrons describing their attendance and betting behavior.



Citation:

Debra L. Scammon and Dan A. Fuller (1993) ,"Horse Racing Rounds the Turn: Gambling For the Fun of It", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1, eds. W. Fred Van Raaij and Gary J. Bamossy, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 394-400.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1, 1993      Pages 394-400

HORSE RACING ROUNDS THE TURN: GAMBLING FOR THE FUN OF IT

Debra L. Scammon, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, U.S.A.

Dan A. Fuller, Weber State University, U.S.A.

ABSTRACT -

Horse racing and playing the horses inspire a variety of connotations. On one hand they conjure up pictures of pageantry: gentlemen sipping Mint Juleps and ladies wearing beautiful bonnets, while watching high-spirited and highly trained horses competing neck-and-neck to the finish line. On the other hand, horse racing also creates visions of unsavory types betting their last dollar on an excessively speculative wager that a long-shot will beat all odds and pay a fortune. This paper examines the unique characteristics of horse race gambling that set it apart from other forms of gambling and that identify a subculture of horse players. It presents data from participant observation and from a survey among horse race patrons describing their attendance and betting behavior.

BACKGROUND

In the United States the dual forces of legalization and social acceptability have fueled a dramatic increase in gambling participation (Cummings and Dandurand, 1985). Most states have legalized at least one form of gambling due mainly to the potential contribution to public finance from taxes levied upon gambling (Suits, 1977; Abt, Smith and Christiansen, 1985). While legalization has preceded moral and social acceptability to some extent, increasing numbers of consumers in the U.S. play the lottery, bingo, table card games, slot machine and casino table games, Jai Lai, greyhound and horse racing (Simon, 1991; Knight-Ridder New Service, 1992, A-2, 3). In addition, speculative activity has long been a recognized, though not always honored, activity in the stock and bond markets. Gambling is becoming institutionalized as a legitimate social and economic activity.

Abt, Smith and Christiansen (1985) argue that the several forms of gambling can be differentiated on the basis of structural characteristics. Unlike lotteries, many casino games and slot machines where chance alone determines the outcome, the combination of a large number of factors involved in a horse race removes chance as the dominate determinate of the outcome. Much like stock market analysts, professional handicappers feel that by carefully studying available data they can "determine" which horse will be the winner. This, however, requires a commitment of time uncharacteristic of many other forms of gambling. In some jurisdictions, the game specific distinction between skill and chance has legal standing. For example, Article VII, Section 27 of the Utah State Constitution says "The Legislature shall not authorize any game of chance, lottery ... under any pretense ..." The Utah State Supreme Court has held that because horse racing depends on factors other than chance, race track betting is not prohibited by the State Constitution.

As gambling opportunities have become more diverse and widely available, economists have begun to study the substitutability of one form of gambling (e.g., horse racing) with other forms of gaming (e.g., lotteries) (Ahern and Amspacher, 1990; Herman, 1976; Weinstein, 1974). These investigations have generated interest in understanding the motivations of and benefits sought by gamblers choosing different games. Similarly, those with vested interest in one form of gambling have become interested in ways to reach new patrons with a version of their game.

Racetracks have attempted to increase betting opportunities not just by building more tracks and holding more race meets, but by making the races available to a broader public through alternative media. Today live racing is only one venue for watching and betting on the horses. Simulcast broadcasts of live races are available via satellite at licensed facilities around the country. Off-Track Betting (OTB) parlors and Inter Track Wagering (ITW) facilities are becoming popular for betting on races held in distant locations. Opportunities for wagering are available in some parts of the country through telephone accounts. Bettors deposit money into an escrow account and then call to place bets drawing upon these funds. Fans can watch horse races on CNN's sports channel and, for major races like the Breeders' Cup, on network television.

Each of these variants of horse racing can be viewed as a market extension. Although they all have horse racing as a common central focus, they vary considerably in terms of their capital intensity (racetrack, grandstand, tote board, etc.) and the central and peripheral services that are provided to patrons (e.g., betting facilities, concessions, crowd control) (see Clawson and Knetsch, 1966 for a discussion of the market extension of capital intensive recreation). Importantly, they also differ in terms of their ambiance and the non-betting benefits of attendance. Fans say there is much more to horse races than just the betting; they find enjoyment in the excitement and the social contact available at the track. A day at the races provides a break from the daily routine. The obscurity of the crowd offers a chance to don another self for a few hours. The excitement can be shared with friends and companions.

PURPOSE AND METHOD

The purpose of this study is to explore the motivations for attending horse racing and betting on horses given the unique characteristics of horse race gambling. The study is designed to examine the substitutability of different forms of horse race participation, the substitutability of some forms of risk taking, and the role of specialized knowledge, access, and social interaction in horse race participation. The study focuses primarily on the behaviors of "recreational" horseplayers C the behaviors of fans.

This study relies on a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. Initially the researchers observed racetrack patrons and interacted with racetrack management during a four month visit to Kentucky. [Both authors were visitors in the Equine Administration Program at the University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky. This program is housed in the School of Business and is supported from tax revenue generated by the racetracks in Kentucky. Other academics in the program, and professionals in the horse racing industry throughout the state provided sources for observation and discussion about racetrack patronage. The University of Louisville campus is five miles from Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, 60 miles from Keeneland, a track rich in race tradition, and 90 miles from Turfway Park, a suburban track on the outskirts of Cincinnati, a city with several professional sports teams.] These data were helpful both in planning a survey with patrons as well as in interpreting the responses to the survey.

The quantitative data for this study were generated through personal interviews conducted with 502 racetrack patrons at two tracks during both live and simulcast races. Participation was sought from patrons on a quota basis to sample from various places within the racetrack grounds. Interviews were conducted by trained interviewers with patrons in General Admission, the Club House, and in the Concession areas. Interviews took an average of 10 minutes and were conducted between races with most interviews completed prior to the sixth race of the day's race program.

THE UNIQUE NATURE OF HORSE RACING

To help set the stage for interpreting the results from the survey portion of this study, participant observations of some of the unique characteristics of horse races are provided. The observations of the researchers are supported by literature when appropriate and are addressed by survey responses later in the paper.

Ritual and the Protected World of the Track

Horse racing is a leisure time activity with unique hedonic characteristics. "Horse racing is perhaps the most ritualized of all major sports....(I)t has generated a subculture with peculiar values and behavioral norms that are the product of a history antedating the United States" (Abt, Smith and Christiansen, p. 84). Participant observation during three race meets allowed us to experience many rituals which quickly became redundant. Pre-race rituals include bringing the horses to the saddling boxes where the patrons can observe the horses being readied for the race. The horses and jockeys, adorned with brightly colored "silks" representing their racing stable, then move from saddling paddock to the track announced by a track bugler. They parade in front of the grandstand before being loaded into the starting gate. During this time, fans also parade from paddock to track to see and be seen as well as to inspect the entries in the next race.

Important races, such as the Kentucky Derby, present more complex rituals which include dress codes (e.g., female patrons must wear hats, more accurately head-dresses, with veils and fresh cut flowers), consumption expectations (e.g., the obligatory Mint Juleps) and social interaction (e.g., seeing the "right" people (old monied families), and making new social and economic contacts). The subcultural rituals are so elaborate as to be intimidating to the uninitiated; they are, however, part of the attraction and fascination for the "regular" fan.

As with other consumption contexts within which a unique culture develops, the racetrack is a "protected environment." As Abt, Smith and Christiansen note,

"...racetracks are hermetic environments enclosed by social boundaries that seal their inhabitants, the horseplayers, owners, trainers, jockeys or drivers, and racetrack personnel, off from the real world. The racetrack is an alternative reality." (1985, p. 95).

This "reality" is self-contained within the physical boundaries of the racetrack. It is completely set apart from the daily routines of most patrons.

"Entering this society the bettor sheds his real-world self and assumes a new identity: that of horseplayer. In this role he is integrated into the racetrack-world as a respected member of this gambling-generated subculture" (Abt, Smith and Christiansen, 1985, p. 95).

Thus, the racetrack becomes a place to escape from the real world, a place to role play, and a place simply to play.

The World of Gambling

Ritual and socialization are only part of the unique culture of the racetrack. There are a variety of peculiar aspects of gambling on horse races that also contribute to the subculture of horseplayers.

Learning to wager. Serious pari-mutuel wagering requires considerable knowledge of the sport that is simultaneously a significant barrier to heavy betting by the uninitiated public and a lure to continued participation by more experienced horseplayers. At the minimum, a bettor must learn win/place/show terminology, how to read the race program, and the business-like, no-nonsense process of transacting bets (e.g. $20 on number 4 in the 6th [race]). More sophisticated wagering requires knowledge of the mechanics of the pari-mutuel pool and the corresponding odds display on the electronic tote board, the use of detailed information sources such as the Daily Racing Form and exotic wagers (perfecta, box-2, trifecta, etc.). There can be as much to learn about betting the horses as there is about the stock market; the intellectual challenge is equivalent.

Handicapping. Handicapping involves establishing the odds of winning for each horse in a race. Handicapping is a time-consuming activity requiring careful analysis of data concerning the trainer and jockey; the ancestry, past performances, and condition of each horse; as well as track and weather conditions. Not surprisingly, an active market exists for recent information on the performance of horses, trainers and jockeys as well as the odds forecast by professional handicappers. Professional handicappers and fans alike can be seen pouring over tip sheets in search of the "key" to the upcoming races. For the professional handicapper the winning ticket will be the payoff. For the fan or leisure gambler, the reward may be in the intellectual challenge and social stimulation of handicapping the next race. Races are typically paced twenty minutes apart and this slow pace of betting distinguishes the social atmosphere of racetrack wagering from the more frenzied casino atmosphere.

Wagering. Once a gambler has handicapped a race, the desired wager must be placed. Serious wagering requires strategic decisions involving comparison of the handicap odds to the pari-mutuel odds. The pari-mutuel odds on any particular horse change continuously during the 20-30 minute interval between races as other bettors make their wagers. These changes are reflected on the tote board, which by recording shifts in odds as wagers are made, registers the collective betting market opinion in a manner analogous to the stock market ticker tape. Horseplayers at the track often wait until just minutes before post time to place their wagers in order to benefit from this information.

Paradoxically, the extensive knowledge required to "play the game well", once acquired, is a powerful inducement to habitual participation. Horseplayers make a substantial investment of time, money, and mental effort in pari-mutuel betting. In the process they become highly socialized into a subculture that extends beyond the betting itself. For many, mastering the art (science) of handicapping is equally as important as the winnings generated from their betting. The special knowledge horseplayers have gained and the social behaviors they have learned can only be exercised in this setting; the racetrack becomes a way of life.

PARTICIPANTS' BEHAVIOR

Turning now to our survey data we focus on participants' involvement with racing and on their motivation for attending horse racing. Our discussion incorporates several different approaches to data analyses which are explained as they are introduced.

Extent of Involvement in Horse Racing

Racetrack patrons were asked to classify their involvement in racing. By far the largest group of respondents characterize themselves as "Fans" (86.5% of our sample). The rest of our respondents have a more vocational or avocational interest in racing: just under 5% consider themselves professional handicappers, another 4% call themselves horsemen (owners, trainers, breeders), and 4% say they work in racing.

TABLE 1

ESTIMATED COEFFICIENTS FOR YEARLY TOTAL NUMBER OF VISITS

In general, respondents are avid race fans. The mean number of years of attendance at horse races is 16 years with 71.5% of respondents reporting attendance for more than 10 years. Only 5% of respondents have been attending horse races for less than a year. These data compare to attendance reported by Ahern and Amspacher (1990) in a study of California racetrack patrons in which the "typical" patron had been attending horse racing for 20+ years and only 10% of the sample had been attending racing for two years or less.

As discussed earlier, the opportunity to gamble at ITW facilities is considered by many to be a "market extension." As such it is important to know whether ITW is attracting new fans or long-time patrons who are taking advantage of the increased accessibility of racing. Our data suggest that patrons attending ITW are more likely than those attending live races to have been attending races for more than 10 years (76% at ITW vs 68% at live races. Conversely, more first-timers (78%) and more patrons attending horse racing less than one year (80%) were interviewed at live races than at ITW. These data suggest that new fans may be attracted more to live racing and only after exposure to the gambling at the track do they become interested in attending ITW facilities.

To determine how the availability of ITW has impacted attendance at live racing, respondents were asked how their attendance at live racing had changed since ITW became available in Kentucky. Although most respondents report no change, a surprisingly large percentage of patrons interviewed at ITW facilities report that their attendance at live racing has increased (13% at both Churchill and Turfway). Conversely, 20% of those interviewed at Turfway ITW report that their attendance at live racing has decreased. These differences are statistically significant at p < .01. These data are consistent with the conclusion from a large national survey that when games have similar psychological characteristics, introduction of and popularization of one may increase interest in participation in the other (Kallick-Kaufmann, 1979).

Our patrons attend horse races very frequently: 44.2% report attending live racing 2-3 times a week during a race meet. Another 38.4% report attending live racing once a week or 2-3 times a month. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents also report attendance at ITW racing during the last year. Those who had attended ITW report an average number of visit of 25. These data support the suggestion from the literature that horse racing engenders habitual participation.

Based on the survey results, we estimated the total number of visits (live and ITW) per year. Table 1 reports the results of a regression analysis of estimated number of visits annually. The regression results suggest that "Fans" have significantly lower frequencies of attendance than do "handicappers" or "horsemen." Not surprisingly, retired respondents and individuals who report they are motivated to attend in order to gamble have significantly higher frequencies of attendance. A-priori we suspected that stock market investors might have a higher frequency of attendance since handicapping is similar in intellectual involvement to investing. We also had a similar suspicion for individuals who engage in physical sports because of possible cross-participation effects. The coefficients for both variables while positive, supporting our a-priori suspicions, were insignificant.

Motivations to Attend Horse Racing

Previous research (Kallick-Kaufmann, 1979) has suggested that the primary motivation for betting on horses is "having a good time," followed by "excitement," and "challenge." In that national study conducted by the University of Michigan Survey Research Center, only about one-third of respondents said they bet on horses "to make money." Slightly more of our respondents, 37.1%, reported that the opportunity to gamble was the reason that they attended the races. Similar to other studies, fun and excitement were important to many of our respondents: 22.7% came for the fun of watching the races and being with people, 15% said it was a break from everyday routine, and nearly a quarter of patrons expressed multiple reasons for attending.

Table 2 present results of a multinomial logit analysis of these four motivations to attend racing. Because of convergence problems we ran several subsets of variables in an iterative process, eliminating insignificant variables to progress from model to model. The model presented in Table 2 correctly classifies the motivations for the largest proportion of respondents (210 of 481 usable for this analysis). [Multinomial logit, widely used for choice based modelling, can be used to generate conditional probabilities of observing the outcome of a discrete dependent variable (Manski and McFadden, 1981). That is, if we let P(i/X,B) denote the likelihood of observing ith of j possible outcomes given observations on X, a vector of characteristics and B a vector of parameters, then: EQUATION. Coefficients for j-1 of the outcomes are reported since logit normalizes the coefficients of jth outcome to zero.]

TABLE 2

ESTIMATED COEFFICIENTS, LOGIT ANALYSIS OF MOTIVATION

The estimated coefficients presented in Table 2 are somewhat difficult to interpret directly. Generally speaking, a negative coefficient indicates a drop in the likelihood of observing that outcome, and hence an increase in the probability of observing the other outcomes. To illustrate the interpretation of the coefficients, we focus on four groups of variables providing basic frequencies for the variables included in the logit model and simulations of the model for variables of interest.

The Context of Racing. There can be significant temporal and geographic barriers to gambling on horse races. Attending live racing, off-track betting (OTB) and inter-track wagering (ITW) require significant expenditures of time. Regular attendance at live racing is limited to persons living in relative geographic proximity to racetracks. OTB, and to some extent ITW, expand the geographic market of racing while ITW extends the betting season at horse track facilities.

Our data suggest that patronage is sensitive to travel distance. Over half of the sample (54%) travel 10 miles or less, while 71% travel 15 miles or less to attend the races. More patrons traveling 35 or more miles were interviewed at live races (16%) than at ITW races (12%).

TABLE 3

SIMULATIONS OF THE LOGIT MODEL OF MOTIVATION TO ATTEND FOR SELECTED VARIABLES

ITW facilities appear to have increased access to racing among those individuals who can now attend the races in the evening, taking time away from home rather than work. Those attending Churchill live (afternoon racing) were most likely to say that they would be "at work" (59%) while those attending the other three sites (evening programs) were most likely to say they would be "at home" (Churchill ITW = 80.3%; Turfway live = 76.7%; and Turfway ITW = 43.8%). The increased access to gambling through ITW is reflected also in the frequency of attendance by patrons. Respondents interviewed at ITW facilities have a significantly higher frequency of attendance than do their live race counterparts.

To examine the impact of alternative activities and travel distance on respondents' motivation to attend races we turn to the coefficients reported in Table 2. These suggest that patrons who would otherwise be at work and patrons who travel the furthest to come to the races attend as a break from their daily routine. Simulations of the logit model, reported in Table 3, suggest that individuals who would otherwise be at work (instead of engaged in some other activity) are almost twice as likely to be seeking a break from everyday pressures.

ITW and OTB facilities typically provide only minimal services for patrons when compared to those available on-track (Ahern and Amspacher, 1990). For many fans the differences between on-track and off-track betting mean that some of the "thrill is gone" when the races are wagered off-track. We examined motivation to attend and found that respondents at live races were less likely to attend because of the opportunity to gamble although the significance of this result was sensitive to model specification.

Patrons' Demographics. Although our respondents ranged in age from under 21 to over 65, 14.5% were in the 65+ age group. Just under one-fifth (19%) of respondents were retired. By far the largest group of respondents were caucasian (85%) males (80%). The vast majority (87%) reported at least a high school degree and over 20% of the sample reported at least a college degree. Compared to the surrounding population, the sample includes a higher proportion of retirees, males and is better educated.

Our analysis reveals no significant impact on motivations to attend horse racing due to ethnicity, age, or education. However, gender and occupation do influence motivation to attend. Females were more likely to report being motivated by a combination of reasons. Some variants of the model suggest that retirees are more likely to be motivated by fun and socialization, but the level of significance is too sensitive to model specification to draw a definite conclusion.

One quarter of respondents (26.3%) were in executive or professional positions, 35% were in blue collar occupations, 11% were in service jobs, and 28% were not currently in the work force (housewives, retired, unemployed, or students). Nearly three quarters of respondents report an annual household income of $20,000+ with 12% reporting annual income of $60,000 or over.

The simulation for occupation reported in Table 3 suggests that blue collar workers are more likely to attend the races because of the opportunity to gamble. One might suspect that this result, which was significant in all model variants, would be income dependent. However, in all models in which occupation and income were entered together, income was insignificant. When income was entered without any occupational variables, high income individuals (over $40,000) were more likely to attend the races as a break from everyday pressures.

Socialization. Literature suggests that gambling tends to be inter-generational (Lesieur and Blume, 1987). Thus, we asked respondents whether either of their parents bet on the horses. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of the sample report that neither parent bet on horse racing. Simulations on this variable reported in Table 3, suggest that there is a significant increase in the likelihood of reporting gambling as a motivation for attending racing if the respondent reported that neither parent bet on the horses. This suggests that a parental history of gambling may decrease the attraction of betting on the horses ("the thrill is gone") while simultaneously increasing other appeals of racing such as watching the horses and being with friends (a socialization effect).

Our sample was fairly evenly split between respondents who attend the races alone (55%) and those who attend with friends (45%). Those respondents who come with friends are more likely to be high frequency bettors, that is, they plan to bet on eight or nine races during their day at the races. This suggests that although the opportunity to gamble may not be the primary motivation for patrons to come to the races, if they attend with friends they are likely to get caught up in the excitement of betting and wager on most of the races.

The Gamble. Other studies (Kallick-Kaufmann, 1979) as well as ours reveal that about one-third of racetrack patrons come for the gambling. As suggested earlier, we expected those who came for the gambling to take that activity seriously. We also expected that there might be some relationship between the motivation to gamble and patrons' involvement in other risk-taking activities, especially similar ones such as investing in the stock market. Our data suggest that patrons motivated by the gambling opportunity typically acquire information to enhance their betting success and undertake riskier bets. Individuals observed with the Daily Racing Form were significantly more likely to indicate their primary motivation for attending was to gamble. In addition, individuals reporting that they made exotic wagers (perfecta, trifecta, etc.) were significantly more likely to report attendance at the races because of the opportunity to gamble. Although one quarter of the sample reported investing in the stock market, there was no significant difference in their motivations to attend racing.

TABLE 4

ESTIMATED COEFFICIENTS OF TOTAL AMOUNT BET

Literature suggests that professional gamblers critically analyze potential bets and place a few large wagers once they find the right combination of handicap and pari-mutuel odds (Abt, Smith and Christainsen, 1985). A small subgroup within our sample (6%) indicated they would make two or fewer wagers while at the races. We conducted a logit analysis of this low frequency betting behavior. Our data suggest that individuals who identify themselves as professional handicappers are not significantly more likely to be low frequency bettors (although they are significantly less likely to be high frequency bettors). Rather, individuals who identify themselves as horsemen are the only ones more likely to be low frequency bettors. These data suggest it may be useful to distinguish between "professional handicappers" and "professional gamblers." Professional gamblers may wait to wager until they identify a sure bet. Professional handicappers may get their kicks just from calculating the "best" wager.

Two thirds of respondents (64.9%) planned to bet $10 or less on a single race. Another 20% planned to bet between $10 and $20 on a single race and 10% planned to bet between $20 and $50. The mean single bet was $19.00. Two-thirds of respondents said they would not bet more than $20 on a single race. Only 8% planned to bet more than $100 on a single race.

Based on reported average bet on a single race and the number of races upon which each respondent planned to bet, we computed an estimate of the total amount bet during the day at the races. Table 4 presents the results of a step-wise regression analysis of the total amount bet. Total amount bet increases significantly for respondents who indicate a household income of over $40,000 as it does for males, individuals who attend to gamble, and sports participants.

Respondents were also asked what was the maximum bet they would wager on any single race. A stepwise regression analysis (not reported here) of maximum bet bevealed that respondents who identify themselves as fans plan a significantly smaller maximum bet than do "handicappers" or "horsemen." The expected maximum bet of a handicapper is $90 greater than the expected maximum bet of a fan. Those who invest in the stock market are also likely to report higher maximum bets for a single race. The maximum bet on a single race is significantly lower for females.

DISCUSSION

This study confirms some of the conventional wisdom in the horse racing industry. Patrons of live racing appear to attend live races more for the pageantry and the opportunity to spend time with friends and companions than for the opportunity to gamble. However, while at the track they tend to bet on the majority of races. It appears that both the social and gambling aspects of live racing are important to patrons.

Gambling on the horses is, for some, a form of play. These fans gamble simply for fun. Although they are playing with money, they are not playing for money. The game is as important, if not more so, than the outcome. The pageantry and social ambiance of the track as well as the contest between highly trained horses add to the excitement of the gamble. As one horseplayer was quoted as saying "...when I put my money on a horse and hear its name on the speaker, my heart stands still. I know I'm alive" (Kusyszyn, 1977).

Research on risk has identified monetary and physical risk as two different types of risk (see Kusyszyn, 1977). The gambler is obviously taking a monetary risk. For them, risky non-gambling activities are more likely to be acceptable substitutes than low risk forms of gambling. In our sample a quarter to one-third of live race fans report involvement in a physically demanding sport and/or investment in the stock market C a higher rate of participation than among the general public. At least for these patrons the element of risk associated with betting the horses seems to add excitement to a day at the races.

Contrary to previous studies we did not find "professional handicappers" to be less frequent bettors. They are, however, heavier bettors. We found a negative relationship between parental betting on the horses and patrons' betting behavior. Parental involvement in betting seems to have have altered the utility functions of participants; they still enjoy attending the races but are less likely to do so because of the opportunity to gamble.

The newer options for betting on races appear to attract patrons because of the opportunity to gamble. ITW patrons place higher average single bets and bet more in total during a day at the races. These data suggest that alternative venues for horse race betting target those interested in the gambling aspect of racing. These patrons may be what the literature commonly calls "habitual gamblers," those who gamble because of the opportunity to gamble. ITW facilities increase the accessibility of gambling on horse racing and thus expand the opportunity to people who might not otherwise be able to attend because of geographic or temporal constraints. Interestingly ITW as a market extension for horse race gambling does not necessarily cannibalize live race attendance; almost as many ITW patrons report increases in their live race attendance as report decreases since ITW became available in their area.

Economists have long argued that gambling on horse racing is not rational if one considers only the expected value of bets; the "take" prevents many long run winners. Playing the horses must then have other attractions for bettors. These attractions relate to the social context C the alternate reality and the rituals of the track C the intellectual challenge of the game C the process of handicapping and wagering C and the excitement of taking a monetary risk. During our survey, a look around the race track revealed many fans strategizing their bet on the next race. They were so single-minded and deeply absorbed that our interviewers had a hard time pulling them away for a few minutes. For these fans, the 20 minutes between races seemed to fly C life stood still.

REFERENCES

Abt, Vicki, James F. Smith, and Eugene Martin Christiansen (1985). The Business of Risk: Commercial Gambling in Mainstream America. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas.

Ahern, James and William Amspacher (1990), "Preferences of California Satellite Wagering Patrons," unpublished paper for Equine Administration Program, University of Louisville, Louisville, Ky.

Burns, Alvin C., Peter L. Gillett, Marc Rubenstein, and James W. Gentry (1990), "An Exploratory Study of Lottery Playing, Gambling Addiction and Links to Compulsive Consumption," Advances in Consumer Research, Vol 17, eds. Marvin E. Goldberg, Gerald Gorn, and Richard W. Pollay. Provo, Ut: Association for Consumer Research, 298-305.

Clawson, M. and J. Knetsch (1966). Economics of Outdoor Recreation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

Faber, Ronald J. and Thomas C. O'Guinn, and Raymond Krych (1988), "Compulsive Consumption," Advances in Consumer Research, Vol , eds. Provo, Ut.: Association for Consumer Research, 132-135.

Faber, Ronald J. and Thomas C. O'Guinn (1988), "Compulsive Consumption and Credit Abuse," Journal of Consumer Policy, 11 (1), 97-109.

Gunter, B.G. (l987), "The Leisure Experience: Selected Properties," Journal of Leisure Research, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 115-130.

Herman, R. (l976). Gamblers and Gambling: Motives, Institutions, and Controls. Lexington, Ma.: DC Heath & Co.

Holbrook, Morris B. and Elizabeth C. Hirschman (1982), "The Experiential Aspects of Consumption: Consumer Fantasies, Feelings, and Fun," Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 9, September, 132-140.

Kallick-Kaufmann, Maureen (1979), "The Micro and Macro Dimensions of Gambling in the United States," Journal of Social Issues, 35 (3), 7-27.

Knight-Ridder News Service (1992), "New Games Scoring Big As Lottery Fever Fizzles," Salt Lake Tribune, January 18, A1-2.

Kusyszyn, Igor (1977), "How Gambling Saved Me From a Misspent Sabbatical," Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 17(3), No. 3, (Summer), 19-34.

Kusyszyn, Igor (1983), The Gambling Scene: Why People Gamble, Charles C. Thomas, Publisher, Springfield, Il.

Kusyszyn, Igor (1984), "The Psychology of Gambling, The Annals of the American Academy, AAPSS, 474, (July), 133-145.

Lesieur, Henry and Sheila B. Blume (1987), "The South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS): A New Instrument for the Identification of Pathological Gamblers," American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 144, No. 9 (September), pp. 1184-1188.

Manski, Charles F. and McFadden, Daniel, eds. (1981) Structural Analysis of Discrete Data with Econometric Applications, (MIT Press; Cambridge, Mass.)

Moschis, George P. and Dena Cox (1989), "Deviant Consumer Behavior," Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 16, eds. Provo, Ut.: Association for Consumer Research, 732-737.

O'Guinn Thomas C. and Ronald J. Faber (1989), "Compulsive Buying: A Phenomenological Exploration," Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 16, No. 2 (September), pp. 147-157.

Rosecrance, John (1988), "Professional Horse Race Gambling: Working Without a Safety Net," Work and Occupations, Vol. 15, No. 2, (May), pp. 220-236.

Simon, Mark (1991), "Finding Good in a Bad-News Poll," Thoroughbred Times.

Suits, D. (1977), "Gambling Taxes: Regressivity and Revenue Potential," National Tax Journal, XXX (March).

Weinstein, D. and L. Deitch (1974). The Impact of Legalized Gambling: the Socioeconomic Consequences of Lottery and Off-Track Betting. New York: Praeger Publishers.

Woodside, Arch G. and Randolph J. Trappey, III (1990), "Compulsive Consumption Of A Consumer Service: An Exploratory Study of Chronic Horse Race Track Gambling Behavior," Working Paper 90-MKTG-04, Freeman School of Business, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana.

----------------------------------------

Authors

Debra L. Scammon, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, U.S.A.
Dan A. Fuller, Weber State University, U.S.A.



Volume

E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1 | 1993



Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More

Featured

G6. Brightness Increases More Positive Views of Humanity and Prosocial Behavior of People Low in Moral Identity Internalization

Jun Yan, University of Manitoba, Canada
Luke Zhu, University of Manitoba, Canada
Fang Wan, University of Manitoba, Canada

Read More

Featured

Who Gets Credit? Who Gets Blame? The Role of Agency in Ethical Production

Neeru Paharia, Georgetown University, USA

Read More

Featured

P2. The Upside of Myopic Loss Aversion

Daniel Wall, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Gretchen Chapman, Carnegie Mellon University, USA

Read More

Engage with Us

Becoming an Association for Consumer Research member is simple. Membership in ACR is relatively inexpensive, but brings significant benefits to its members.