Youbet.com’s paying off

May 28, 2002 8:05 AM
by

share

Simply stated, Youbet.com is 1970s off track betting upgraded to the 21st century.

"We are the ultimate way for horse bettors to enjoy what they do," Youbet.com chief executive officer (CEO) David Marshall told GamingToday when contacted at his Los Angeles office.

Youbet.com is a public company established in 1995 and now traded on Wall Street under UBET on the list of NASDAQ stocks.

"You can open an account with us within three minutes," said Marshall, whose company has the capability of broadcasting any race from the 80 thoroughbred tracks across the United States. "We are running today without being in Nevada and will continue to do so if things stay as they are."

Youbet.com offers pari-mutuel wagering via its closed-loop network on horse races run coast to coast. Nevada is not included because the state bars wagers placed by Nevadans to be transmitted outside the state.

The recent triple crown races proved to be record-setters for Youbet.com. The daily handle record of $1 million set on Kentucky Derby day (May 4) was broken two weeks later by the amount wagered on the Preakness.

"Our staff answered nearly double the number of customer service calls received on Derby Day," Marshall said. "We were ready for the volume, with an impressive average wait time on hold of only 65 seconds per call."

Marshall’s company was initially seen as a threat to the thoroughbred industry, which was opposed to any wagering conducted away from the respective tracks.

"We were seen as taking business from the tracks, much like OTB was when first developed in New York," Marshall said. "Through persistence, the industry has now embraced us. They realize that we were not keeping people from betting at race tracks but, in fact, adding to the track’s total handle."

Marshall said the California Racing Board gave its stamp of approval to Youbet.com and that the company has a proven record of making instant payouts to customers wishing to claim their winnings quickly.

"We have the ability to deliver the funds into a player’s checking account," Marshall said. "The bettors can also have access to money instantly through express cash. People can open an account either by phone or through their computer. It’s easy and convenient."

In the seven years of operation, Youbet.com has become the largest legal online gaming company in the nation. Marshall admits that Youbet more or less has the run of the market.

"We allow people from 39 states to wager on line directly into the racetrack pool," he said. "We are the only company that offers 100 percent action on all U.S. tracks. Our hope is to expand into Nevada and get involved with Las Vegas, but the laws have to change for that to happen."

Las Vegas is considering intrastate gambling through the Internet, but interstate gaming in sports other than horse racing is considered illegal under the 40-year-old Wire Act.

"Developing a relationship with the State of Nevada would be nice," Marshall said. "But, more importantly, it would allow Nevada casinos to participate in worldwide gaming. That could be beneficial to us and gaming in Nevada."

Marshall, though, has plans to market his company internationally and become a player in all sports.

"We are making plans to go overseas," he said. "Clearly there is a market for it. Asia and South America offer wonderful opportunities, particularly with the popularity of soccer and motorsports."

Marshall said his company was in negotiations with a Las Vegas casino, but was not at liberty to reveal the plan or participant.