12/06/2017 6:32PM

International betting executives advocate for new wagering options in U.S.

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TUCSON, Ariz. – Bet takers in the U.S. could put in place several new betting options already in place in other countries in order to drive up betting on U.S. races, the heads of several betting companies from Australia and the United Kingdom said on a Wednesday afternoon panel at the University of Arizona Global Symposium on Racing.

While several of the options that were described on the panel were not entirely new, the approaches largely capitalized on the use of tools that are not in place at U.S. bet-processing companies, such as the ability to sell off stakes in multi-race wagers after one or more legs have already been run. That tool, introduced to the British bet-processing systems in 2015, is now considered a standard option in the U.K., according to the founder of the company that designed and implemented the tool.

“This is the modernization of the multi-leg opportunity,” said Bernard Marantelli, the chief executive officer of Colossus, which next year will run all multi-leg wager pools on behalf of 54 racetracks in the U.K.

The Colossus system also allows bettors to post a “suggested” multi-leg bet to its social media platform and accept offers to buy shares in the bet. That practice actually does exist in U.S. racing, with account-wagering operators offering their customers shares in a syndicated bet, often as a promotion around big race days, and with friends pooling their funds to chase a large multi-leg wager. But the Colossus system instead gives that power to any bettor and expands the number of people that are capable of buying shares.

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The options outlined by Colossus were general features of the system, whereas TopBetta Holdings, a betting company based in Australia, has lately been offering promotional bets that, for example, offer bettors bonus odds, allow a bettor to cancel the bet at any time of the race, or pay out if the horse finishes second to the favorite or leads at any time in a race, according to the founder of the company, Todd Buckingham. Like promotional bets offered by U.S. account-wagering operators, the liability of TopBetta is capped by limits on the amount of the bet or payout, but it creates value for bettors by giving them novel ways to avoid a losing bet or boost their winning payouts, Buckingham said.

Buckingham said that the current problems facing U.S. racing, such as handle stagnation, had also plagued Australian racing in the last ten years, but he claimed that innovations like the promotional bets had contributed to a resurgence of the industry as of late.

“We’ve been there,” Buckingham said. “We know what it’s like.”

Another new British company, Punt Club, allows groups of friends to pool their money and take turns placing horseracing bets. The application sends notices to everyone in the club at a time the bet is made, and the founder of the company, Jason Neave, said it is designed to capitalize on the social aspects of gambling. An ad for the application broadcast during the panel sounded straight out of a lad mag.

Neave said that the application has drawn “a few thousand clubs” that range from four members to 100 members, and he said that his company believes that the application has strong growth potential.

Finally, the moderator of the panel, Curtis Linnell, an executive vice president at the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau who is a deep thinker on betting issues, suggested an idea that piqued the interests of some in the crowd: giving players rebates on their bets if they placed the bets well before post time. That would reward players who seed the pool early, Linnell said, and lead to greater liquidity in the pool as betting progressed.