Magna to Introduce Patron-Friendly Betting Machines

By Raymond Whelan

Magna Entertainment Corp. has plans for new pari-mutuel wagering machines designed to make betting easier for first-timers, officials said May 1 during a press conference after the company's annual meeting.

MEC chairman Frank Stronach, on hand at the meeting at Lone Star Park in Texas, indicated the legalization of slot machines or and video lottery terminals in Maryland, Michigan, Texas, and other states where MEC owns tracks would probably enhance the quality of racing and promote revenues and redevelopment. But slots and VLTs won't fix every financial and promotion concern, Stronach said.

"Slots will be helpful during the next three years, but in the long run, we have to simplify betting on horse racing," Stronach said.

To that end, Stronach said MEC is working on bringing a new generation of quick-action, customer-friendly automatic betting machines to its racetracks within six months. They will look like slot machines and act like slot machines, but they will be for betting on horse races, he said.

Magna president Jim McAlpine said the new machines would make wagering easier for first-time bettors. "They will replace antiquated models that ask you 57 questions before you can put your bet in," he said. "They will take all the mystery out of betting for the person who would like to wager on horse racing but has never had the courage to do so."