After previously saying an online site for fixed-odds horse racing would launch before the premier event of its meet, Monmouth Park ran its 14-race Haskell Stakes card without launching its MonmouthBets.com app in New Jersey.
Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of the Oceanport thoroughbred track, told Casino.org in a Sunday evening email that Monmouth’s app “will be live soon” and that has been approved by the state.
Actually, it was ready to launch and fully approved for Haskell Day,” Drazin said. “Betmakers and Monmouth Park want to make sure everything is perfected for fixed odds as we roll it out smoothly.”
Monmouth Park introduced fixed-odds racing at the track when its meet started in May. That was the culmination of a two-year effort. In 2020, Monmouth and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association signed a deal with Australian-based BetMakers Technology Group to develop a fixed-odds product for the track. Last year, the New Jersey Legislature passed a law creating a regulatory framework for fixed-odds wagering.
Drazin and Bill Pascrell III, a New Jersey lobbyist who has championed fixed-odds wagering for the sport, were part of a July 14 panel discussion on the topic at SBC Summit North America, an annual sports betting conference held in Secaucus, NJ. Pascrell told the audience that the app would be available for the running of the Haskell, a Grade 1 race and one of the biggest for 3-year-olds outside of the Triple Crown.
Pascrell told Casino.org on Friday afternoon that there were some “tech issues but nothing major” holding up the launch. Then, on Saturday afternoon, he said that the app received its regulatory approval and industry certification. Some testing was still taking place on Saturday, but he was optimistic a launch would still occur before the race.
To Drazin’s point, an app that may have encountered issues on its first day would likely have faced challenges winning customers back, especially new bettors to the sport. It also, depending on the severity of the glitches, might have attracted more attention than holding off.
Still, not having a fixed-odds wagering site up for the Haskell, especially after making a voluntary announcement, seems like a missed opportunity for Monmouth Park and the sport of horse racing.
The 14-race card on Haskell Day is the biggest event during Monmouth’s four-month meet. Saturday’s all-sources pari-mutuel handle of $19.9 million was nearly four times the size of the track’s all-sources handle from the week before.
And while it would have only been available in New Jersey, it still could have generated significant traffic – especially since the race served as the first Grade 1 stakes race for trainer Bob Baffert since returning from the 90-day suspension he received from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stewards for Medina Spirit’s failed drug test after last year’s Kentucky Derby.
So, instead of possibly enticing bettors from New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland into making a short drive for an online bet, fixed-odds wagering was only available for the 22,138 in attendance at Monmouth Saturday. Those patrons accounted for $1.3 million, or roughly 6.6%, of the pari-mutuel handle.
At SBC, Pascrell told Casino.org that fixed odds was only available at six windows at Monmouth, a small fraction compared to the hundreds of pari-mutuel windows. Despite that, he said in-person fixed-odds wagering windows were taking bets amounting to roughly 15% of the on-track pari-mutuel handle.
Despite not having the app up and running on Saturday, Drazin said he still has full confidence in Monmouth’s partner.
“BetMakers is doing a great job,” he said. “No concerns.”
About Fixed-Odds Racing
Fixed-odds wagering is being touted as a way to attract new fans to racing, a sport that has become stagnated in recent years. In particular, it’s considered a way to attract those bettors who are into sports betting but either don’t understand or care for pari-mutuel odds, which fluctuate as more bettors enter the pool.
So, someone who bets on a horse at 7-1 may see his return dwindle if a large sum is wagered later on his pick. The allure with fixed odds, to both the novice and the experienced handicapper, is you’ll get the odds as they were available when you made your bet.
What it does not guarantee is that your fixed-odds wager will have a better return than the pari-mutuel bet. Saturday’s Haskell winner Cyberknife is a good example of that.
The Brad Cox-trained horse paid $17.60 for a $2 pari-mutuel bet to win. His initial fixed-odds price was $7 for a $1 bet (or $14 for a $2 wager), but closer to post time Saturday, Cyberknife was $10 for a $1 bet.
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