Horse racing and sports betting go hand in hand, but there are growing concerns that racing is falling behind other sports when it comes to in-play betting. Whilst bookmakers tend to push their live betting service for many other sports like football, tennis, cricket, rugby and even esports when it comes to horse racing, it seems that the bookies are much more cautious about this innovative feature.
Not only does this mean that customers get fewer options for placing a bet on the horses, but it means that the racing industry will face more difficulties in gaining extra revenues in the face of increased regulation and competition. But what are the reasons behind the slow uptake of live betting in the horse racing world, and what can be done to bring things up to speed?
Latency issues to be resolved
A big reason as to why the betting world has stayed away from in-play betting is the fact that there is a widely held perception that the technology isn’t up to par just yet. With just split seconds dividing a winning and losing horse racing bet, it’s clear that gaining an accurate picture of exactly what is going on in a race is essential to making a confident live bet. Unfortunately it seems that live streaming technology has yet to overcome the latency issues that means that there is a varying discrepancy in the speeds with which the live image is broadcast from the race to punter’s screen.
Such discrepancies have meant that many bookmakers are holding off pushing their in-play betting service too much until the situation is resolved. This is obviously hugely frustrating as live betting has been successfully introduced for a variety of sports and it could be a shot in the arm for the horse racing industry. Obviously, there are plenty of punters who still enjoy placing a bet just before the race has begun, but many newcomers to horse racing will wonder why they cannot place an in-play bet like they would for a cricket or rugby match.
Could drones provide the solution?
Whilst drones have proven to be a nuisance at many UK airports, it has been suggested that the technology could be used to resolve the latency issue in horse racing live betting. This idea came to the forefront of many people’s minds when it was revealed that people had been using drones that broadcast live footage of a horse race in order to get a better wagering advantage.
A recent horse race at Southwell received an unexpected visit from a drone, and it’s thought that the operators were able to stream the live footage with a shortened time lag that sent footage two seconds faster than those being offered by the broadcasters. The owners of Southwell Racecourse quite rightly decried the use of drones as being little more than theft, but it does raise the issue of how drones could be used to enhance the audience experience.
Many UK racecourses currently sell hospitality boxes that include a live internet feed of the racing action. But what many people don’t realise is that this live service comes with a two-second delay that could quickly turn a winning in-play bet into a losing one. As such, there is something of a race on amongst the nation’s racecourses to offer an improved live streaming service so that punters can know that they are getting the best possible picture of what’s really going on. This is especially so as it has been reported that some supposedly ‘live’ pictures of horse racing are as much as seven seconds behind the action, and would obviously give the viewer a clear disadvantage were they to try and place an in-play bet.
Why changes need to be made…
The horse racing betting industry has been in something of a nose dive since the heady days of the 1980s where racing accounted for around 85% of the industry’s revenues. At the moment the revenues from racing stand at a relatively modest one-third, and it’s clear that this figure is under growing pressure from increasingly popular new sports such as mixed martial arts and esports.
By introducing a fast and reliable live betting service, it’s hoped that such measures could significantly boost the numbers of tech-savvy young people to the horse racing world. Horse racing is still widely seen as a very traditional sport, and the fact that it doesn’t make full use of live betting apps is sure to make it much less attractive to those new to racing.
In addition to this, the successful introduction of in-play horse racing betting would also have the potential to boost the number of pre-race bets that are placed. This is because punters would be able to place their bets and then trade them with other racing fans after the race has begun. But with something of an unequal playing field across the racecourses in the UK, it’s clear that there are some significant obstacles to the widespread introduction of in-play betting.
However, it seems that a growing number of promising technology firms like Total Performance Data are looking to see how GPS software could be successfully introduced to the horse racing world. This would use a box that transmits live data about the racehorse’s positioning to a satellite and back to the grandstand in less than 0.1 seconds.
Such technology would instantly come to the punter’s aid as it would give them a much more accurate picture over how the race is progressing. In addition to this, the technology would also provide plenty of insight for the trainers. This is because the GPS tech would be able to communicate everything from a racehorse’s positioning to their rate of strides per second. All of which shows that whilst horse racing is a deeply traditional sport, it could still get a helping hand from the latest in technology.