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Betting on Tech

The View

Like everything else, the gaming landscape continues to change. What people bet on, and how they bet, is different today than it was just a few years ago.

Customers are more likely to be exposed to social media games than to casino games. And young people, when offered the opportunity to wager on video games or horse racing, will likely choose the option they are most familiar with.

Technology is only one part of the equation, but if we fail to be at the front of the curve, it will become increasingly difficult to win over new customers.

Here are three areas where technology can move horse racing to the next level:

IN-RACE BETTING

The ability to wager instantaneously on the devices we all carry in our hands, is a big opportunity for horse racing.

With current handle being strictly based on pre-race wagering, in-race betting can be a huge area of revenue growth.

There are many ways of doing it. With the ability to track each horse through GPS technology, data companies are already able to pull huge quantities of information from a race. That can be used to determine instantaneous odds, or provide information for customers bet-ting one another through mid-race exchanges.

While regulatory hurdles exist, they can be overcome with vision and work. But we have to see the future and embrace it.

Even in its simplest form, opening up a second pari-mutuel pool when the wings fold, and closing it at the half mile mark - will in itself be an experiment worth looking at to allow us to refine technology and seek regulatory change.

Overseas, in-race betting is now a huge contributor to betting pools, and the in-race markets tend to reach a younger, more tech-savvy client than traditional pre-race betting.

VIRTUAL REALITY

If you watch eSports (which are essentially video game tournaments) you will see thousands of young onlookers watching a first person view of video game players shooting other video game players. Think what you want about it, but it's not a passing fad.

Teenagers by the millions, being thrown into the video game experience, should be teaching us about how future generations can be placed into the immersive horse racing experience - to make our sport come alive for them.

Through cameras mounted on drivers and race bikes, we are already able to bring customers into the race. Through virtual reality head-sets, racing can take the next step toward watching a race from the perspective of the horse and driver that customers bet on.

We have a very unique ability to do this in a way that sports like football and hockey will always struggle with. And we must embrace the change.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

As horse betting platforms improve, bettors can do more and more. They can watch multiple races, queue their bets, access program information and watch replays before making bets.

But what if the platform was learning from you with every bet you placed?

What if the artificial intelligence built into the platform was learning about what successful angles you were betting on, and telling you other similar bets that existed?

Imagine you could give your betting platform parameters of how much you were willing to bet, and on what tracks, and allow it to place wagers while you are sleeping, or out for the night? The system would learn from your successes and failures, monitor the data, and make your bets - both for pre-race and in-race betting.

It is not difficult to imagine a betting world where computers are not just tools for the large wagering syndicates and high-volume bettors, but for every player - even the first timer who comes to the track, and downloads the track's AI app.

We all live in a world where vehicles are going 100km per hour on our highways, without drivers.

Horse racing will not survive on technological enhancements alone, though. If we don't promote the soft touch of our sport and the wonderful horses we care for, we will forever fail to differentiate ourselves.

Technology, however, is not going anywhere. It is a reality of how we live, and function. And because of that, we either embrace it, or we watch, and let others race by.

Our choice.

Darryl Kaplan
[email protected]


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