Horse racing’s worldwide appeal can only be broadened by betting apps

November 10, 2016 10:53 AM

As international horse racing regulation slowly declutters itself and governing bodies start to accept the worth of broadcasting their “product” to a worldwide audience via the Internet, horse racing betting apps sit ready and waiting.

Betting is nothing new, online betting is nothing new, but the broadcast of live races on to a mobile device is in its relative infancy. So far authorities around the world have shown a reluctance to allow their pictures to be given up, fearing they miss out on a percentage of betting turnover they are sure to create.

They say nothing is free in this world. But maybe that’s about to change, spearheaded by a deal between Australia’s Flemington racecourse and Twitter, which led to November’s fabled Melbourne Cup horse race being broadcast live, around the world, to Twitter users on their mobile devices.

The United Kingdom unquestionably rules the roost when it comes to the live streaming of horse racing. A look through 12 prominently displayed online sportsbooks listed on the popular British site show each and everyone has a mobile app and furthermore they all stream footage of races from within the UK and Ireland. Some do not require customers to place a bet on a race to watch it. Those that do only seek a total stake of around $1 to do so.

Naturally the European betting landscape is very different to that of North America and much of the world. An “open door” policy allows the public to place bets in a number of different ways with “pool betting” only accounting for a tiny percentage of the money wagered on any horse race. Fixed odds betting is the industry leader but punters can also place exchange bets – at sites such as Betfair – and spread bets.

While this list of betting options may seem chaotic, the British betting scene is incredibly well regulated and licensed in a way that protects bettors. Furthermore betting margins are very small in relation to most of the world’s pari-mutuel retention rates.

Similarly the deals put in place between online sportsbooks and the racecourses who give up their pictures for free is a tribute to what can be achieved when all sides have a common goal.

So, equipped with a faster speed Internet connection than ever, quality pictures and betting on horse racing on mobiles complement each other beautifully. But, such is the pace of online sports betting, the ante has now been upped with the introduction of “in running” betting.

That’s right, fixed odds bookmakers have now joined the betting exchanges in offering prices “in running” (or “mid-race”). It’s probably a more difficult medium to play in races of a mile or less but do consider some races in the UK, Ireland and France can be as long as 4 miles and can take upwards of nine minutes to complete.

Not content with this, the latest fashionable feature for sportsbooks offering horse race betting on mobiles is “cash out.” “Cash out” is the ability to take winnings on a multiple bet before all legs of the bet are completed.

This has already been surpassed by “partial cash-out” whereby customers who have placed a double or any other accumulative type bet can take back some profit (or loss) but still have part of their bet running on the final selection(s).

Would all of these innovations have happened in a world where no simulcast pictures were released and mobile betting did not exist? That’s a matter of conjecture. But one thing is for certain, the enormous audiences that are discovering horse racing and subsequently betting on horse racing globally can and do only have one positive effect on the sport – more revenue, which could and should ultimately find its way back into racing’s purses.

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