Some of the top tracks in North America are offering their racing signals, or will offer those signals, for wagering on the first U.S.-based exchange wagering platform.
Betfair US launched a betting exchange for New Jersey residents May 10 and several major North American tracks have reached agreements to allow their signals for wagering on the new platform during current meets or the next time they offer live racing. Besides the anchor New Jersey tracks, Monmouth Park and Meadowlands (Standardbred and later Thoroughbred), the exchange is offering wagering on Canada’s top track, Woodbine, and in October will offer the Keeneland fall meet.
“We've been a Betfair partner for some time now internationally and, with the platform now expanding into the U.S., it made sense for us to take advantage of that,” said Woodbine Entertainment executive vice president of wagering and strategy Sean Pinsonneault. “We want to put the Woodbine brand out there and make sure our product has the maximum exposure and distribution.”
“Being part of the New Jersey exchange is one more component of getting people interested in our racing. I think Woodbine has a lot to offer and being a part of these new platforms plays an important role in our strategy. Exchange wagering is appealing to some of our current horseplayers and it may also appeal to some new players. Being on the forefront of that is not a bad thing from our point of view.”
The track agreements are similar to contract agreements on pari-mutuel wagering reached with off-track outlets or advance-deposit wagering operations.
Betfair US also has agreements for the New Jersey exchange from Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Delta Downs Racetrack Casino and Hotel (Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse), Emerald Downs, Evangeline Downs, Hawthorne Race Course, Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort, Presque Isle Downs, Sam Houston Race Park, Tampa Bay Downs, Turf Paradise, Turfway Park, and Will Rogers Downs.
Betfair US chief executive officer Kip Levin said exchange wagering will bring new attention to these tracks. Talks continue to add more tracks.
"With any innovation, like when tracks started allowing online betting a few years ago, some stakeholders adopt earlier than others, not unusual or surprising,” Levin said. “We're confident that exchange wagering will bring new participants and new revenues to racing, and that we can demonstrate that.
“We are in constructive discussions with many of the leading tracks and horsemen's organizations. We hope to add more tracks to the exchange wagering roster over the next few months.”
Levin said Betfair US, which in New Jersey operates advance deposit wagering outlet 4NJBETS, has seen evidence that the betting exchange is drawing new players, as opposed to shifting players from on-track to off-track or pulling existing players from pari-mutuel wagering outlets.
“In another encouraging sign, in terms of number of accounts opened and the initial trading volume, about two-thirds is by people who were not 4NJBETS players,” Levin said. “That’s an area where we continue to focus: bringing new users to racing, along with providing the best customer experience and helping bettors learn the features and nuances of the exchange.”
Betfair’s exchange in the United Kingdom has offered many major North American tracks and circuits. Since 2010, it has offered wagering on New York Racing Association races.
Levin said it was too soon to discuss specific numbers but said Betfair US has been pleased with the liquidity on the races offered on the New Jersey exchange.
“It’s too early to draw significant conclusions, but there are several positive indicators for the launch of exchange wagering in New Jersey. The liquidity on the races offered to New Jersey players has been strong--that’s a good sign of the level of interest,” Levin said. “As people get more comfortable on the exchange, we expect it to grow. There is a learning curve, but we are seeing people sampling the exchange with a strong level of engagement.”