HALLANDALE BEACH, FL — The recent announcement that Monmouth Park, instrumental in securing legal sports wagering in New Jersey in 2018 and subsequently in several other states, had entered into an exclusive 10-year agreement to conduct fixed-odds wagering was welcome news.
With fixed-odds wagering, horseplayers can lock in their odds as sports bettors have done for years. Wagering would be conducted under the auspices of BetMakers, a company that will oversee a bond-posted bookmaking operation in compliance with New Jersey state law.
Alas, here is yet another reason for federal oversight to replace a 38-state patchwork of rules and regulations that has impeded the progress of modern Thoroughbred racing for decades since the emergence of the simulcast era.
This issue is too important for racetracks in other states to cave in to local political pressure. Fixed odds wagering in horse savvy Australia has increased to the extent that purses have doubled in less than a decade. And the advantages for American horseplayers are notable.
In addition to locking in the odds you play, true expertise and gambling savvy, which is more art than science, makes wagering on horse racing, at least theoretically, a better bet.
Fixed-odds wagering would give a rank and file handicapper a chance to outplay the million-dollar algorithm set. But since batch bets are made at the last minute in every sizable pool everywhere, expect big-time push-back from those bettors and bet-takers.
It’s at that point where we see if track managers are as feint-hearted as GOP Senators or as myopic as their past performances indicate.
Horsemen will have to get their fair share of the pie, of course, and the tracks are entitled to “rights fees.”
But if horseplayers are as smart as they imagine themselves to be, and the odds on their choice continues to climb, they can go bet more, gambling that their opinion will be rewarded without fear that the value they sought won’t magically disappear before the field reaches the half-mile pole.
American bettors will not want to lose their ability to bet into the horizontal and exotic vertical pools, but they won’t have to. Fixed-odds wagering is for straight players so it is highly likely that win and “each-way” eventually will replace traditional win, place and show pools.
An each-way bet is a hybrid version of an across-the-board wager and the same betting norms apply; beat a favorite and you will be rewarded. Most every bettor’s favorite aspect is never getting split in an exacta again; if your horses finish first and third, your each-way bet is a winner.
Personally, the idea that the influence of the huge batch bettors on final odds would be mitigated is a significant aspect of fixed-odds wagering, as the odds on your horse will not change once the bet is made.
Moreover, in addition to the ability to bet more as the odds climb knowing that they can’t affect your odds, it’s an invitation to attract potential new players with a stock market mentality, or sports bettors who understand when to bet on a favorite–early, or the high-odds underdog–late.
Obviously, sports bettors will have to master a steeper learning curve but today’s gamblers, aided with technology, are not the shot-takers of previous generations. They do not resemble the old stereotypical OTB patron in tatters.
“We have been working with racing bodies and bookmakers from all parts of the world to develop the best solution that fits into the horse racing ecosystem,” BetMakers CEO Todd Buckingham old Bloodhorse.com.
“We believe that U.S. horse racing has the potential to be the largest betting sport in the U.S., including basketball, American football, and baseball. There is a real opportunity for the U.S. horse racing market to grow.”
Indeed, racing, for better or worse, has been wooing the upscale crowd. Not today, and perhaps not until the next decade, but fixed odds wagering can have an impact on making Thoroughbred racing the Sport of Kings again.
Or put another way: Go big or go home.