Fixed-odds wagering is the novel betting concept that allows horse-racing bettors to lock in prices prior to a race. It’s now one big step closer to becoming a  reality as NJ Gov. Phil Murphy signed the legislation last week.  

Subsequent regulatory approval from the New Jersey Racing Commission and Division of Gaming Enforcement is imminent.

Monmouth Park, working in conjunction with BetMakers Technology Group, will be the first racetrack in the country to offer fixed-odds wagering.

It’s a popular form of betting in Europe and Australia.

Monmouth Park and fixed-odds wagering

Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC., which operates Monmouth Park, told NJ Gambling Sites “we’re very happy with this development and are hopeful that we can offer this within the next two weeks.”

“We could have several weeks of wagering on fixed odds before the end of our meet (Sept. 26),” said Drazin.

When it is available at Monmouth Park, fixed odds will be offered on win, place, and show betting at the outset, with a minimum wager of $1.

 According to a Monmouth Park press release,  there will be designated betting windows for fixed-odds betting throughout the grandstand and clubhouse levels. There will be televisions displaying the current odds.

Monmouth Park will also show the fixed odds for each race during the track’s in-house televised feed of races.

NJ is only a launching point for fixed-odds wagering

Various states taking Monmouth Park’s live-meet signal will have the future option to add fixed odds wagering. Like with New Jersey,  it would need to be approved by their state regulating agencies, probably a state legislature and racing commission. 

The process will take some time but probably won’t face opposition.

The big picture is even better, spreading beyond the realm of horse-racing players into the vast gambling universe.

Fixed-odds betting will ultimately be,  in the words of the Life in the Fast Lane hit song by the Eagles, “everything, all the time.’”

“At some point, every horse race around the world will be on every single app you see for sports betting and iGaming,” said Drazin. “There will be 20 times the amount of people there are now to wager on our product.

He added “we always have the traditional horse players, but in the future, you will have a situation in which you will be able to bet on the races at fixed odds no matter where you are.

“You can be hanging around at halftime of a football game and you will see this opportunity to bet the third race at Monmouth with fixed odds.

“We know that people love to wager and we believe they are likely to wager on horse racing. When sports were shut down last year, they were betting Russian ping-pong,” he laughed.

Fixed odds should benefit the horse racing industry

This is a magical development in the horse racing world.

If widely implemented, fixed-odds wagering will help it compete with other sports seeking the gambling dollar.

Horse racing’s pari-mutuel pools often miss a chunk of the high-end betting market. Odds don’t become final until post-time and can change dramatically, especially in a race with a light betting handle.  

A gambler making a bet at 2-1 odds and sees it dip to even money or even 4-5 at post time loses significant money on a large wager.

A $100 bet at 2-1 odds returns a profit of $200. At 4-5, the profit is $80. And the odds can shift rapidly. (Imagine betting the Philadelphia Eagles at + 3.5 against the New York Giants on Thursday only to see that become -1 on Sunday).

The industry loses potential big wagers because bettors either bypass certain races or get “shut out” on a big bet, failing to place it in time after waiting too long for odds to shift.

Making the horse betting business competitive

In this respect, horse racing finds itself at a disadvantage against other sports.

With NFL betting, for instance, gamblers can lock in bets on those several days before an event. If the odds change dramatically, bettors often make a subsequent wager.  But at least their first bet counts.

Widespread fixed-odds wagering is one way of helping the horse betting industry become competitive in the sports gambling space.

The other is to amend the sport’s crippling takeout percentage, a thorny issue. It approaches 25%-30% on exotic (exactas, trifectas, and superfectas) forms of wagering, driving many bettors out of the mix.

 The percentage compares unfavorably with the 10% vig on most mainstream sports wagers (NFL, MLB, etc.)  and that percentage dwindles even more with incentive-laden profit boosts and specials.

Horse-racing handle has recently increased in areas like Pick 5 and Pick 6 contests, which have reduced the takeout percentage to the 15% range. 

If horse racing is to thrive in the online gambling climate, it must improve bettors’ chances by reducing takeout percentages or offsetting them with signup bonuses, odds boosts, and promos.

Haskell would have been a great test case

Monmouth Park hoped to install fixed-odds wagering at this year’s Haskell Stakes, which took place on July 17. Because the track only had permission to offer Grade I races with a pilot program, the idea didn’t materialize.

But the scenario indicated the appeal of fixed odds.

Hot Rod Charlie was the 6-5 favorite in the Wednesday draw, three days before the big race. He dropped to 4-5 at post time. A big bettor who liked Hot Rod Charlie could have made a Friday wager, if it was in place, for odds in the 6-5 range or perhaps even higher.

With the fixed odds option, the track could have even enticed a big bettor by offering odds of 7-5 or 8-5.

A scenario like this before the race may have drawn some big bets. But after Hot Rod Charlie fell to 4-5 on Saturday, his betting appeal was gone.

Hot Rod Charlie initially won the Haskell but was disqualified for interfering with Midnight Bourbon. Mandaloun at 3-1, was declared the winner.

Regardless of that development, the Haskell served as an excellent justification for this new industry tool. 

New Jersey online bettors will see periodic bursts of news on fixed-odds wagering going forward. 

 The only question is “when,” not “if,” bettors obtain the full fixed-odds menu.

AP Photo/Mel Evans

 

About

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others.