Youbet.com announced Monday that it plans to launch a horse racing entertainment Web site in March of this year exclusively for access by customers in Mainland China.
The new site, which will mirror aspects of the U.S. Web platform in Simplified Chinese, is intended to extend Youbet's brand awareness by exposing Chinese Web users to U.S. horse racing.
According to a release from the company, the site will feature live feeds from U.S. tracks selected primarily because their races run at times that align with daylight time zones in China. Initially, Youbet will broadcast signals and program information in Chinese from the Meadowlands Race Track and Monmouth Park Racetrack in New Jersey; from Sam Houston Race Park in Texas; and from Delta Downs and Evangeline Downs Race Tracks in Louisiana.
Youbet said construction of the new URL also will produce the architecture needed to launch fully functional Spanish and Chinese language sites in the U.S. The Spanish and Chinese versions of Youbet.com will go live before the end of the second quarter of 2005.
"We're launching the China site to be in a position to capitalize on opportunities that could arise if the Mainland Chinese government acts to legalize aspects of online gaming," said Charles F. Champion, Youbet's CEO. "Clearly, if gaming laws are liberalized, it will create a large potential market for horse racing and Youbet."
There is a new $50-million track operating in Beijing and another $180 million has been committed for a racing complex in populous Hubei Province (pop. 60.3 million) in east central China.
"A Chinese language entertainment site focused on horse racing is a logical, cost-efficient marketing vehicle for introducing our brand and the sport to government officials, gaming industry leaders, track owners and consumers," Champion said. "We will carefully monitor regulatory events in China to determine if future expansion of the site is warranted.
The China Website will be accessible only from the Mainland. Visitors will be asked to register for free trial memberships which entitle them to access races and related race information from tracks in the U.S. that agree to let Youbet carry their signal in China. There will be no wagering at the site.
"This is the best way for us to illustrate the power of our platform as a delivery channel for entertainment experiences and for the Chinese to gain an appreciation of U.S. horse racing products," Champion concluded.