MELBOURNE, November 3, 2014--When John encouraged me to write a column a few weeks back while we were gearing up to market our new wagering site 123bet.com, it was a daunting task at first.

What do the American public want to hear from a Kiwi who has just launched a wagering site here in the USA?

Having spent much of my life traveling between the USA, New Zealand and the UK, I want to say that I love America. Actually, I went to school as a youngster in Tampa, Florida, then New York City-Rockaway Beach to be specific-not far from Aqueduct Race Track.

My aunt had a house close to the beach there and I have fond memories of summer nights walking the boardwalk and mingling with the summer-bungalow holiday makers. It was at a time when Frank Sinatra was buying up beach front properties to one day build a casino.

Playland was the local hangout; “Asteroids” was the most popular game in the video parlours. I can remember an Elvis Tribute show, and that was pretty amazing, too.

However, it is racing that has always been the biggest part of my life, having grown up next to a harness track in New Zealand. I was eager to get involved and so I jumped into a sulky at a very early age.

I can’t describe how exhilarating it is to drive a horse at high speed. It wasn’t long before I was hooked.

Now it is 40 years later and I’m still involved with harness racing, as a breeder, trainer, and the odd amateur drive when I have time to get out to the track.

But the biggest move of my career in racing was launching a wagering site in the USA. I only know that I wanted it to be different; something special, personal, interactive among the players.
It’s been a long haul trying to establish 123bet.com. I thought the best way to accomplish this was to provide free-play handicapping contests and deliver a new wager to several tracks in the U.S., which we’ve been doing for the past eight years.

And, so, it was finally time to take the next leap of faith.

To get the “123racing wager” out there in public view, we had to put it online, and the best way to do that was to create our own ADW.

Tote companies around the world are renowned for having no money for research and development. Many have not kept up with the times and parts have become scarce for the computer systems they run on.

I acknowledge that there are some really good, innovative tote companies emerging from the dark ages of early technology and we’ve partnered with one of them.
 
The big question we all face in the global racing industry is simple: How do we keep it going? Where is the next generation of handicappers going to come from?

Money is tight in the world economy, the old boys’ network grows smaller by the day, and large bettors are slowly becoming disenchanted with racing’s problems, especially with respect to the high cost of wagering; pari-mutuel takeout.

So how do we replenish the stock of handicappers who will keep the game alive and thriving? That’s the challenge, and that’s what I am trying to address with http://www.123bet.com.

We’re trying to create something different with our 123racing wager, something new, and something that might get younger folks interested in horse racing, something for our regular handicappers, too. We think of it as ‘Fantasy Football for Horse Racing.’

Without new blood, the pie is going to keep getting smaller and smaller. Horseplayers need other horseplayers. Racing needs handicappers to wager; it’s the only thing that will keep owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, drivers, stable staff, track staff, tote companies and, yes, ADWs, in the game.

For the sport to survive, this ripple effect is the only means by which racing can remain viable. We must keep the circle going round and round.

There are so many moving parts to our industry that it has to be well oiled and maintained just like a classic car, otherwise it will not operate. But nobody is building new cars for our sport!

Mr. Stronach has tried, as he does build great car parts, and operates some of the most successful tracks in the USA, but it has cost him a lot of money.

Without people like Frank Stronach, the industry might have collapsed long ago.

Mr. Gural has done wonders for the Meadowlands and New Jersey harness racing. Having had a tour there this summer, all I can say is; wow--what a great stand they have built there.

There are many great stories in the sport of horse racing. Oil Sheiks have poured gazillions into the game. People like Stronach, Gural, and Sheikh Mohammed have kept our industry ticking globally.

Long may people like them continue to invest in racing’s future. Without them, who knows where we would be? If the game goes away, what would we do then?

Wouldn’t it be great if someone could give the President of the United States a share in a horse and bring him to the backside one morning and the races one afternoon? After all, if it’s good enough for the Queen of England… 

I’ve never had the privilege of meet any of these great people but I trust that our paths will cross one day as I, too, strive to make an impact by providing the best personalized online wagering service that I can.

I love this game and I’m hoping that our ADW in some small way can create new fans by constructing a few new, alternative wagers that might appeal to the youthful experience.

As I said in an earlier interview on HRI, someday I’d like to create a wager with zero takeout--now that would be giving something back to our current players.

A wise handicapper once told me ‘winning is everything – losing is not an option!’ I totally agree. The clock is ticking, and the time has come for cooperation to replace competition.