Google+ Followers

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Instant Racing is slowly starting to spread

(This is from a blog I wrote on the Today's Racing Digest website)

Most slot machines are considered a game of chance, but AmTote and RaceTech developed a machine that is based on skill called Instant Racing. These Instant Racing machines look like slot machines, but they are pari-mutuel just like horse racing and the player has to use their “skill” to select winners from past videotaped races. The names of the horses have been changed and there are data charts the player can use to “handicap” each race (spin).


As you can see above, the reels spin like a slot machine while the race is shown in the upper right corner in the yellow box.  The player selects three numbers/horses for each spin/race and they can win by selecting the first three finishers in order (Trifecta), the first three finishers in any order (Trifecta box), the first two finishers (Exacta) or any two of the first three finishers (Show Quinella).  Each spin is pooled just like in pari-mutuel wagering and the player who hits first receives the highest payout.

These Instant Racing machines were first installed at Oaklawn Park in 2000 and they have helped more than double their purses which were about $400,000 a day in 2013.  In 2012, both Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park (both located in Kentucky) were able to install Instant Racing at their tracks.  On May 23, 2013 a bill was approved by the Senate in Oregon for Portland Meadows to install Instant Racing, but it still has to be signed by the Governor for final approval.

On average, a typical slot machine makes about $300 a day while Instant Racing machines have ranged from 14-57% lower per day.  Still, it is income for the tracks whether they are racing or not and at all hours of the day and night.  While racinos such as Belmont Park or Woodbine still have an advantage, Instant Racing has helped smaller tracks to help boost purses which attracts better horses.

With the recent closing of Bay Meadows and now Hollywood Park at the end of this year, will California racing push to have Instant Racing machines installed at their race tracks?  There was a push for them in 2006, but it appears that it is no longer a priority.  A bill for online poker in the state last year hasn’t made any ground.  This year, a bill was sent to allow sports betting at race tracks, but it has been stalled on the Assembly floor.

Competition for the gambling dollar keeps expanding as there are now over 50 Native American Casinos in California.  There is also the state lottery, church bingo and card casinos.  Online wagering at race tracks in the state has increased, but the tracks also receive a lower cut of the wagering dollar as a piece now goes to the online wagering companies.

Race tracks continue to try their best to attract people to attend live racing by using hat giveaways, mystery mutuel vouchers, food truck festivals, concerts, family fun days. etc.  Maybe there needs to be another push for Instant Racing machines which would at least get more people to the track.  Of course, it is difficult to transfer slot players to become horseplayers, but it certainly couldn’t hurt could it?

No comments:

Post a Comment