The Stronach Group has purchased the original historical racing company, RaceTech, which first offered its Instant Racing games in 2000 at Oaklawn Park.
In July The Stronach Group completed a deal to purchase 100% of RaceTech, the historical racing company that had been controlled by Oaklawn owner the Cella family. Since the purchase, the former RaceTech holdings were added to The Stronach Group's existing historical racing outlet, PariMax, to form the new PariMax Holdings.
Historical racing games play like slot machines but base payouts on a pari-mutuel formula with winning combinations determined by previously run horse races. The Cella family founded RaceTech and its Instant Racing games, which were first installed at Oaklawn in January 2000. AmTote International, the tote company owned by The Stronach Group, assisted in developing the games and then served as RaceTech's technology services provider.
AmTote International president Steve Keech said the purchase fits the long-term commitment The Stronach Group has to horse racing because historical racing gives the racing industry increased content monetization opportunities.
"These opportunities continue to deliver additional income, which is reinvigorating racing operations where it has been deployed," Keech said.
Louis Cella, vice president at Oaklawn Park, said Instant Racing helped turn the track around.
“It was a great run. When we launched Instant Racing, our goal was to save racing at Oaklawn Park and it did that," Cella said. "We positioned ourselves that once we had a strong underpinning at Oaklawn to see if it could benefit tracks outside of Arkansas, and it did. It’s done a great job.
“We’re so grateful for the opportunity we had," Cella said. "We were going in the wrong direction like every other track in North America.”
Keech added that the purchase allows The Stronach Group to leverage the best technologies from the former RaceTech and PariMax. He said it also allows for rationalization of development efforts which will improve product development and shorten the time to launch games.
Cella said the market has become more crowded in recent years as other companies have launched games to compete. RaceTech is involved in litigation in some of those cases. He said historical racing continues to be a success story in the sport and that Oaklawn was the perfect place to launch it because of the base of racing fans there.
"It’s doing exactly what it was designed to do: to bring pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing in an electronic format to help attract new fans," Cella said. “You have to believe in the sport. That’s why it probably would not have worked at many other tracks besides Oaklawn. Our fans love the sport—we’ll have 10,000 people show up on a random Thursday. Our patron base is racing fans. They got it, they appreciated it, and it really took off.
"All of a sudden horsemen started coming to Oaklawn and saying, ‘Why are your purses going up when you don’t have slots?’ And on the other hand, they’d talk about going to tracks that did have slots but nobody was at the racetrack. The formula worked, it really worked."