Kip Levin

Kip Levin

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo

Slow Start for New Jersey Exchange Wagering

Betfair US officials said they will add more player education, marketing.

Players have been slow to warm to exchange wagering through the first seven weeks of its full operation in New Jersey.

The Garden State became the first to offer exchange wagering to United States players when Betfair US fully launched its platform May 10. Through June 27, wagering on Thoroughbred signals reached seven figures at $1,142,228, according to wagering numbers provided by the New Jersey Racing Commission.

When betting figures on two Standardbred tracks that also offered their signals on the exchange are included, the handle reached $1,179,711.

Considering that in a typical seven-week period New Jersey's account wagering service through Internet, phone, and mobile platforms handles about twice that number at $2.4 million, the exchange handle seems to be lagging. But for a new product that players are getting used to, Betfair US chief executive officer Kip Levin said the company expected a slow build of the wagering product.

Levin noted the company is adding features to teach new players about the betting platform and will increase marketing around the Betfair.com Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I) July 31 at Monmouth Park.

"There is a learning curve for U.S. players on the exchange and we are introducing additional educational content to help with that,” Levin said. “We are encouraged with the early stages of the launch in New Jersey, and we are beginning new marketing initiatives as part of our sponsorship of the Betfair.com Haskell and offering additional track content to New Jersey exchange players.”

Facilitated through Internet and mobile platforms, exchange wagering allows bettors to play the role of the house by offering odds on horses that other bettors can accept. Once those odds are accepted, they are locked in for the two parties involved.

Because the wagering form is different than pari-mutuel wagering, it is possible for players to offer different odds prices during the time before a given race. Because of this, the NJRC keeps track of two different figures: "volume" and "amount wagered."

Betfair US officials are encouraged that the majority of volume traded on the exchange to date is from players who are not current or lapsed 4NJBets.com customers. The 4NJBets.com platform is New Jersey's advance deposit wagering platform operated by Betfair US. The volume numbers on the betting exchange suggest it's attracting new players as opposed to simply shifting pari-mutuel bettors.

The volume for the first seven weeks on all Thoroughbred and Standardbred tracks reached $1,234,518. The NJRC noted that the "amount wagered" figure is probably more representative when compared to traditional pari-mutuel handle because it is the amount customers stand to lose should their bets not win.

As expected, the Monmouth signal generated the top handle figure of participating tracks with $206,943 as the "amount wagered" and $227,519 volume. The "amount wagered" figures for Monmouth win bets were by far the majority of its handle at $175,854, followed by $5,881 for place wagering and $25,208 for show. The exchange does not offer exotic wagering.

Other Thoroughbred track signals that have generated at least $100,000 in handle (amount wagered) on the New Jersey exchange include Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, $101,282; Emerald Downs, $63,732; Evangeline Downs, $168,295; Louisiana Downs, $134,880; Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort, $193,439; and Woodbine, $125,583.