Shelly Palmer

Saratoga Springs Racetrack Provides a Study in Pricing

Photo courtesy of NYRA, Adam Coglianese

Writing this blog has provided me yet another reason to go to the wonderful 143-year-old racetrack near my home in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Sports Illustrated described Saratoga’s historic track as one of the world’s greatest sporting venues with an average attendance of more than 20,000 for 40 days each summer.

Saratoga and the other two largest New York State tracks are run by NYRA, which believes in keeping the price of entry (for the spectators, at least) very low so they can get more people gambling on site.

The motivation is that NYRA takes a significantly larger cut of the on-track wagering than their share of the “handle” when bets are placed elsewhere.

Compare these prices with whatever you’re paying at your nearest live-entertainment venue.

Of course, you can pay more, a lot more. But you don’t have to.

Many groups enjoy a day of fun for just $3 per person plus anything they lose gambling. Of course no one comes with the expectation of losing money, so this is not a consideration when deciding where to spend the day.

While you can eat in the clubhouse restaurants and spend $40 or so, you also can order a draft beer for $3, gigantic made-to-order burritos for $9, quality small pizzas for $7, and meal-sized sandwiches for $7-9.

Even though you don’t work for a racetrack, many of us work to increase profits by setting prices for different components of our business.

The lesson from NYRA is to reduce the barriers of entry and make more money from a larger number of customers buying higher-profit products and services.

If you can’t get to Saratoga Springs this summer to enjoy the racetrack and experience their pricing strategy, I hope that you can see the track on NBC and Versus for the next 7 Saturdays. I’ll be there in person.