TG Talk: Would in-play betting lead to a horse racing revival?

TG Talk: Would in-play betting lead to a horse racing revival?

Friday, December 1, 2017 Posted by Luke Massey
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We spoke to OPTIMA, bettingexpert, Sun Bets, BetVictor and TPD

The opportunity to engage new punters with an in-play horse racing product is one which draws a mixed response from the sports betting industry.

The complexities of the product, both from a regulatory and integrity standpoint, combined with the pressure to maintain the accuracy of odds and data in real time, leads to divided opinion amongst some of the leading bookmakers, data providers and platform providers.

Is an in-play product for horse racing what is needed to help the sport recover its market significance for bookmakers? We caught up with some of the industry’s leading voices to find out…

OPTIMA CEO Jacob Lopez said: “Optima stands for top performance, revenues and bottom line benefits for our customers - bookmakers. The improvements we can facilitate in this area will come from innovation around in-play horse racing betting, the use of real time data, and the interaction between the player and the bookmakers in real time.

“Our platform definitely has the required performance for real time data processing that makes it perfect to introduce new in-play products. However, the introduction of in-play betting horse racing betting will not aid the sport's recovery on its own.

“It also requires significant innovation to offer a different perspective to the punters, who are expecting real time excitement and enjoyment, just like in other sports. Horse racing betting must be simplified, real time data made available, and the user experience enhanced with augmented reality, VR and other techniques that will allow the user to interact with the product in real time.”

Stephen Harris, Horse Racing Editor at bettingexpert, added: “In-play horse racing for conventional bookmakers is extremely difficult to implement successfully. Basically, all use Betfair as a guide for their prices, with a percentage shaved off and a small-time delay for bet acceptance.

Most punters have long since realised they may aswell cut out the middle-man and use the exchange directly, rather than pay a premium for an inferior product. Unless a big firm is willing to employ an expert trading team to price up races in running (*they won’t, William Hill have just dismissed 25% of their racing traders), then the exchange dominance in this field will continue.”

Sun Bets Head of PR Tim Reynolds said: “In-play betting is a key area for all bookmakers and drives huge turnover and margin across a number of sports, so I am a believer that it can work in horse racing, but not in its current model. It would appeal to a different type of betting audience to your everyday horse racing punter, but I feel that with racing, the in-play punter will be a lot smarter than somebody who plays the in-play markets on football.

“If it's going to work, in terms of driving turnover and offering a punter what they want, there are a number of issues that would need addressing. The main issue sits with the current in-play product on offer by bookmakers and the delay on streams.

“For anything to work, bookmakers need to gain the trust of their punters, so their product needs to be 100% reliable and fair. The current delay on streams and time to place a bet wouldn't give punters a fair crack of the whip. The speed of the stream and live pictures coming from the course is an absolutely crucial element of betting in running on horse racing.

“For example, if it takes on average 11 seconds for a flat horse in a 5f sprint to run 1f, for every second that the stream is behind, a horse could have run around 18 meters. If you extend this over further in terms of time, a punter could be as much as half a furlong behind the live race!

“Bookmakers do need to find a way to reach out to the wider betting audience and attract new racing punters. Whether in-play betting is the correct way to go, remains to be seen.”

BetVictor Head of PR Charlie McCann commented: “We are innovators within horseracing and would disagree that the sport is no longer market significant. Our in-play product including horseracing is one we are constantly refining – watch this space - but innovation within horseracing is not just about developing your in-play product, but about giving real value to the horseracing bettor. 

“BetVictor has long enjoyed a close and successful relationship with British racing and the sport is part of our heritage. Horseracing is key to continued growth in our core area and remains the second biggest sport in the UK and very close to football.

“We have been betting six places on the greatest horserace in the world, the Grand National, to new and existing customers for six years now, and the sport will always be an integral part of BetVictor. We are proud of the fact that we settled all bets within two minutes of this year’s race – an industry-first.”

Total Performance Data (TPD) CEO Will Duff Gordon said: “In-play betting on horse racing is a massive opportunity. We estimate that the market could be worth up to £500 million, waiting to be realised.

"With TPD’s live in-running data streamed multiple times per second, operators can finally offer in-running odds that eliminate the on-course advantage. Our live data is helping operators move from exchanges to live in running betting.

"UK racing is finally in a position where in-running is a realistic proposition.”

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