Key figures in the New Jersey fixed-odds wagering picture have doubled down on its future.
Or, maybe, they increased it by 150%.
An initial 10-year agreement between Australian giant BetMakers Technology Group and Darby Development, the operator of Monmouth Park Racetrack and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association, was recently extended to a 15-year fixed odds and data distribution deal.
The expanded time signals a deeper commitment by all parties to this novel horse-race betting niche, in which gamblers can lock in specific odds on a bet once it is established before a race.
Whether that is one day, several days, or mere hours before an event remains to be determined, but the concept is revolutionary.
Fixed-odds wagering differs from horse-racing’s pari-mutuel betting system, in which the odds on a horse fluctuateright up until post time. This innovation is slated to debut at Monmouth Park in March during its simulcast season and on May 7 for the opening of the live-racing meet.
Fixed odds places horse betting in line with other major sports in the legalized sports-betting realm regarding the ability to wager early.
Fixed Odds At Monmouth Park
Both BetMakers and Monmouth Park officials saw the benefit of a longer partnership.
“It was taking us too long to get this done,” Dennis Drazin, the chairman and CEO of Darby Development told NJGSabout the fixed-odds launch.
“Back in 2020, we signed the first agreement. But we needed to get legislation done. The legislation was approved, the Governor signed it and then the Division of Gaming Enforcement put out their regs. Bet Makers approached me and the feeling was now that we were on solid ground, they would like to extend the deal. We had a round of negotiations that lasted several months and everybody is happy with this deal.”
One component of fixed odds will unfold at the track. Monmouth Park will have fixed-odds capabilities on somemachines to start. That will expand in some form over time.
The fixed odds will pertain to win, place, and show wagering only.
The next fixed-odds implications concern the online market, which grows rapidly in the United States. New states continually come on board with legalized wagering. The potential audience for horse racing ascends.
“When you put everyone online, you are going to get 20 times the number of eyes on horse-racing content that you do now,” Drazin said. “People are going to get bored sometimes, especially when there is no football (after the Super Bowl) and no baseball (until the season starts). It will be great for them to have horse-racing wagers. There is a tremendous amount of horse-racing content throughout the world.”
Betting On Horse Racing
Dallas Baker, the head of International Operations for BetMakers, mirrored Drazin’s sentiment. His company has a multi-faceted presence in the horse-racing, sports-betting world.
“This is going to be a great revenue stream for many operators,” Baker told NJGS. “The sports betting industry is almost mature regarding the type of sports that can be bet on.”
“Most of the bookmakers we have spoken to are eager to come on. This is a perfect storm for horse racing in the United States. In other jurisdictions around the world, sports are riding on the back of horse racing. But here, horse racing can be on the back of sports betting. Operators can market to databases that have already been established for other sports. Horse racing is a great product, a good margin product, and the operators are going to want to get this on their websites. We can see operators being big marketers of this sport.”
Baker noted that Australian bettors wagered more than $30 billion in recent years for horse racing, from a population of 25 million people. The United States, which has more than 300 million people, wagered only $12 billion last year.
There is room for a seismic shift, with the right push.
BetMakers is essentially a business-to-business operation, he said. Whether via Monmouth Park or any other track around the world, the company obtains rights to provide a streamlined single feed to wagering operators through its Global Racing Network.
It provides the bookmakers with the algorithmic tools they need to manage a horse-racing book, to offer the customer ‘bells and whistles’ to enliven the user experience, and provide everything else that can automate racebook wagering.
BetMakers charges the bookmakers a fee to offer customers the tracks it provides content for. Thus, for BetMakers, the 15-year deal with Monmouth Park creates a long time period in which to sign up clients (like PointsBet, last year).
BetMakers also manages the risk for fixed-odds bets and welcomes the heavy bettors who will use it.
Seeing The Big Picture With Fixed Odds
Consistent success with fixed-odds wagering in Australia prompted BetMakers to gamble heavily on it here.
The company invested several million dollars in this innovation over the past couple of years, including the 2021completed acquisition of Sportech.
BetMakers obtained Sportech’s Global Tote business, which provides pari-mutuel technology and services to horse-race betting operators around the world. This was a big tool in its vision of fixed-odds wagering.
“We have done all that without the first wager being struck,” Baker said. “We firmly believe in the success of fixed-odds wagering and in the horse-racing industry. We think that once people see this up and running, the benefits of fixed-odds wagering will be self-explanatory.”
Baker said that BetMakers will likely be able to offer fixed odds two or three days before a race. That would tap a huge unrealized market: the early bet, especially with big gamblers.
If odds are established well in advance, players can wager one day at a fixed price, make a different bet one day later at another price, and still wager with live-track odds, if they prefer. Win, place, and show bets offer some of the lowest takeout percentages, often around 15%.
More opportunity to bet this this way will entice big patrons, especially those grumbling about the sport’s excessive takeouts in the 25% range for exactas, trifectas, and superfecta wagers.
Fixed Odds For Bettors
Fixed odds could become a major advantage to gamblers, whose pari-mutuel odds today can change dramatically right before post time. The fear of seeing a 2-1 shot abruptly plunging to 6-5, a sudden loss of $80 on a return of a $100 wager, causes gamblers to avoid certain races.
Imagine having fixed-odds capability three days before a Kentucky Derby, a Breeders’ Cup race, or any seven-figure purse that excites the horse-racing community.
BetMakers will manage this risk by setting odds and essentially acting like a book. This augments its other role of content provider.
Baker said BetMakers has deals with more than a dozen tracks and thus can provide thousands of races to operators.
“We are industry first,” he said. “We protect the industry. We will grow the industry. We want to create a marketplace for everybody, from the horsemen and the tracks, to the public. The money from this can help field sizes be maintained and grow and the integrity around it will grow.”
Horse racing has a significant chance to move in the right direction.
(AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)