Touting their new advance deposit wagering enterprise as one developed “by players for players,” backers of Premier Turf Club hope to reel in dollars currently being wagered with entities that operate outside the pari-mutuel arena.
Armed with a master’s degree in finance from Duke University, and many years of intense handicapping included in his educational arsenal, company chief executive officer Ian Meyers said his group believes it is the perfect time to jump into the competitive account wagering market.
“We’re in the right place at the right time,” said Meyers, who has selected Fargo, N.D., as the location for Premier Turf Club’s first call center. “We don’t know of any other ADW that is run by players for players.”
Through years of interaction with other handicappers, Meyers and his partners noticed an urgent sense of uneasiness from those who regularly use accounts that don’t return revenue to U.S. horsemen and racetracks.
“I was actually a little bit surprised by the amount of bettors that use offshore both legally and illegally, who would prefer to play on U.S. soil,” said Meyers, a retired investment banker and bond trader who lives in Boynton Beach, Fla. “We felt it was important to do this onshore; in fact, we were adamant that this had to be done in the U.S. It was important that we pay the taxes, and that more of the money gets back into the hands of horsemen.”
The company is still working out several details before it can launch its product in January, including the finalization of simulcast rights and setting rebate rates.
“We have to be competitive price-wise, and we have to do a better job of providing data than others do,” said Premier Turf Club partner Joe Riddell, a Lexington horseman, handicapper, and real estate broker. “We need to give them a reason to play here.”
Those initiatives were part of the reason North Dakota was selected for the venture. First, laws governing ADW are already in place, as is needed technology infrastructure, such as ample fiber-optic cable capacity. And there is also a strong pool of personnel experienced enough to handle complex exotic wagers many big bettors prefer to play.
A call-center location that will eventually feature 40 employees was leased Dec. 15, and five days later, the group received a license for simulcasting from the state. Phone wagering will be available first, with Internet gambling coming online in about 90 days, Meyers said. The company also intends to introduce its technology into personal digital assistants (PDA) and other hand-held devices.
Premier Turf Club projects it will make a $4.5-million impact on the North Dakota economy; but of parallel importance, the company hopes to capture some of the billions of dollars wagered illegally each year.
“Those that know me know that if I don’t think something will benefit horsemen, then I won’t do it,” Riddell said.
Riddell has had a strong business relationship through the years with Frank Stronach, including brokering multiple real estate deals for the Magna Entertainment Corp. chairman. But Riddell said neither Stronach nor any other racetrack entity has any involvement in Premier Turf Club.
“But I hope they all benefit from our products,” he said.
MEC has its own account wagering service, XpressBet, as well as HorseRacing TV, which broadcasts live racing seven days a week.