American Morally Accepting of Gambling, But Can Horse Racing Position Itself to Take Advantage???

This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes from John Pricci of HorseRaceInsider.com…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!

America’s Ready For Horse Play

Even in this regressive society, it’s OK to promote gambling. That’s the sense one gets from reading a poll on morality, a study the Gallup organization calls its 2011 Values and Beliefs poll.

In a telephone canvas of 1,018 U.S. adults, with a 95 percent confidence level based on a sampling error of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points, three age groups were asked how they viewed moral acceptability in seven categories.

The poll’s results ring true in areas you’d expect. The youngest age group, adults 18 to 34, were much more liberal in their views on morality when compared to adults 55 and older. The third group, a demographic most coveted by business and advertisers, were adults 35 to 54.

On the controversial subject of abortion, for instance, results were exactly what you would expect with one out of three older adults believing abortion is morally unacceptable, only 34% believing it would be acceptable.

One might surmise that so-called middle-aged Americans would have a significant edge over disapproving young adults when it came to abortion, but the spread was a narrow 42% to 44% of those believing abortion is morally unacceptable.

Another category running to form were the views adults had on pornography, the least morally acceptable of the remaining six categories which included divorce, pre-marital sex, embryonic stem-cell research, gay/lesbian relations, and gambling.

Pornography was morally acceptable to less than half the population, running straight along age demographic lines: 42% of young adults, 29% middle-aged adults, and only 19% of the 55-and-over set believe pornography is OK.

Premarital sex was surprising in that even older Americans don’t believe it’s verboten any longer with, from youngest to oldest, 71%, 58% and 53%, a clear majority, believing it’s still a moral imperative to wait until the honeymoon.

It should surprise no one that the 43rd President of the United States was in the minority on the subject of embryonic stem-cell research. Americans believe this type of study is acceptable by margins of, oldest to youngest, 62%, 59% and 66%.

With more than half of America’s couples ranking among the formerly married, it came as no surprise that divorce is the least objectionable of all the 1950s mores in the modern era–except if you’re a politician, of course.

Age is no factor when it comes to divorce, it being considered morally acceptable to 72% of the 18-34 group, 66% to the 35-54s and 70% of those 55 and older, the last margin seemingly high. But we saved the best for last.

Of the seven categories as delineated by the Gallup organization, gambling ranked second only to divorce a moral acceptability.

If these 1,018 adults are representative of all Americans, then the racing industry is missing a bet by not promoting the gambling aspect of the sport.

Gambling is not a moral issue to 59% of older Americans, a majority you would expect because it’s become an accepted form of entertainment for those most inclined to have disposable income, even in this economy.

Two out of three middle-aged citizens don’t consider gambling a moral hazard, either, acceptable by a margin of 65% to 35%.

Likely owing to the popularity of poker, particularly Texas hold’em which, like handicapping horse races, is a game where skill and intellect can trump chance, young adults have no moral qualms with gambling by a wide margin, 71% to 29.

Much is made of the fact that takeout in hold’em is far less than that of horse racing, and that’s true, but at some point poker players have to risk their entire stake to win big. Not so at the races, yet racing never makes the argument.

In parimutuel betting, it’s the crowd that sets the price. The bettor can choose to play or not play. This is a huge advantage since until you place the wager, the outcome costs you nothing. there are no pools to seed via blinds big or small.

Chances are that the big hold’em winner will have much of his money in the pot, a situation in which he’s betting blindly by definition. A highly skilled handicapper can know more than the crowd, and even more than insiders who rely on the opinion of others.

Racing has done an awful job positioning its gambling vs. other games of chance. Worse, it’s never taken the time to educate the public on handicapping and betting in a studious manner.

As was stated in Tuesday’s piece on the new Racing Fan Advisory Council in Ne York, the NTRA pushed for the creation of a fan education component at racetracks back in 2005. Name one that did so.

Sorry, pre-race seminars have more to do with touting winners than educating fans: Teach the man to fish.

The industry never has taken fan education seriously enough to see it as a means to service existing customers and creating new ones.

Polls like this are encouraging news for the industry if it wishes to target the 35-54 demographic, still vital and in their prime earning years. So, too, the 21-to-34 set, young and looking for a new and exciting challenge.

Gambling–no matter how right wing-nuts try to control the message–is no longer considered taboo. The industry needs to know this, step up, and act with the courage of a Thoroughbred.

WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?

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