It’s a popular pastime in the United Kingdom and Youbet.com Inc. (UBET) is hopeful it will be attractive to Internet gamers in the U.S.
The company says it has signed a deal to bring I-Race, a virtual horse management and race entry game, to the U.S. beginning in the first quarter of 2005. Developed by a Scottish company called VIS iTV, the game permits fans to own, train and race a stable of virtual horses.
Initially, the company will not conduct wagering on the virtual races.
In the announcement, the company said that the new game is consistent with the company’s strategy of bringing "to our customers the best racing contents available anywhere. And I-Race has no peer when it comes to the world of virtual racing," said Charles F. Champion, company CEO.
Youbet.com is the country’s largest Internet provider of horse racing content that gives its members the ability to wager in commingled track pools.
"Virtual horse ownership games could be to racing what fantasy leagues have become to professional football and baseball," Champion added. "They sustain interest in and out of season. Virtual racing games could have the same effect on horse racing on and off line," he said.