Under a five-year naming rights deal, the first for a U.S. racetrack, the Inglewood, Calif., track will be known as Betfair Hollywood Park. The value of the deal was not released.
“We are deeply committed to changing U.S. horseracing for the better and are delighted to find a partner in Hollywood Park Racing Association willing to take the bold step of trying to change every facet of the racing experience to appeal to a broader, younger audience,” said Stephen Burn, CEO of Betfair .US. and the TVG racing network.
Betfair operates the world’s largest betting exchange company. Based in the United Kingdom, it is a prime sponsor at Ascot Racecourse.
Under the terms of the Hollywood Park agreement, Betfair has said it will make “significant infrastructure investments and improvements.” Those improvements include creating the Betfair Club, where the current Hollywood Lounge is located on the main floor and a Betfair Lounge, where the VIP Lounge is located on the third floor. Both areas will be improved to provideaccess to state-of-the-art technologies to interact with its racing product and enhanced contemporary food and beverage service.
For the televised and online product, Betfair intends to introduced advanced graphics found on the broadcasts of other major sports. It is anticipated that races for Betfair Hollywood Park will be presented in high definition.
Betfair also intends to heavily promote racing at Hollywood Park to a younger audience through electronic media, social media, and other new media outlets and through innovative promotions. For example, customers who purchase tickets to a music concert will be able to redeem those tickets for credit on a TVG advance deposit wagering account for the face value of the ticket. The ticketholder won’t be able to withdraw any funds until a wager is placed.
“Horseracing is a wonderful sport, but it must embrace cultural change and utilize advancements in technology and presentation to survive and thrive just as other sports and entertainment industries have done,” Burn said. “We hope this is the first of many examples of using the assets of technology companies, such as Betfair, to revitalize historic venues such as Betfair Hollywood Park.”
Hollywood Park president Jack Liebau said agreements like this are needed to reinvigorate the sport.
“We need to look at the way we do everything in presenting our product to the public and not be afraid to embrace change, particularly if we are going to generate a younger fan base,” he said. “We believe that partnering with Betfair to modernize the product will benefit California racing. Exchange wagering is another possibly transformative technological change for horseracing. However, it will only be introduced after a thorough consultation with our Horsemen and Horsewomen and, of course, its implementation is ultimately subject to the approval of the Thoroughbred Owners of California.”
California is one of only two states that have legalized exchange wagering, which is in essence head-to-head betting between two players. New Jersey is the other state.
The California Horse Racing Board is considering regulations to implement exchange wagering on horseracing by California residents but the issue is controversial. While someone on an exchange offers odds a horse will win a race, on the other side of the wager, someone is betting the horse to lose. Allowing someone to profit when a horse loses is one of the key concerns surrounding exchange wagering. Betfair, which pioneered exchange wagering on horseracing in 2000, has tried to assure the racing community that the all wagers are closely monitored for any irregularities and that integrity of the system is a key reason for its success worldwide.