Fixed odds betting in the U.S. is still in its infancy — available only on Monmouth Park races, and limited to those who are on-site at the Oceanport track, which has had somewhat unpalatable weather conditions in its first three race dates of this new gambling era.
But in the 10 weeks between now and July 23, plenty of developments are expected.
That was the consensus this week of Monmouth Park operator Dennis Drazin and Dallas Baker, an Australian executive for Betmakers who has lived in the U.S. since just before the pandemic began in 2020. Baker said he has about 15 racetracks in the U.S. and Canada on board to begin using fixed-odds wagering soon.
“First, we want to make sure everything is running absolutely perfectly,” Baker told NJ Online Gambling on Wednesday, after he and Drazin spoke to an audience of students and gaming industry insiders at the Seton Hall Law School Gaming Law, Compliance, and Integrity Boot Camp in Newark. “We have to crawl before we can walk.”
When Drazin asked for confirmation that more tracks would be available for fixed-odds wagering before the Haskell Stakes on July 23, Baker replied, “Oh, God yes.”
What’s pending — and what isn’t
The New York Racing Association is a partner with many tracks around the country, including Lone Star Park in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Baker said that a number of those tracks are on the verge of coming on board with fixed odds wagering “very soon.”
And what about NYRA’s crown jewels — Saratoga Race Course, Belmont Racetrack, and Aqueduct?
Baker said that while adding those tracks to the mix “will be a feather in our cap,” he said various regulatory approvals still must be won in New York before that happens.
Drazin also said that Churchill Downs, the California racetracks, and the Stronach tracks — including Pimlico, site of the Preakness on Saturday — “won’t be as quick to pull the trigger” as some lesser-known tracks.
And what about the other New Jersey racetracks — the Meadowlands and Freehold? Drazin said the standardbred industry in the state is in a “wait-and-see” mode on how the Monmouth Park experiment works. Only fixed-odds win, place, and show betting — which makes up a smaller pool of wagers than “exotics” like a daily double or a Pick-6 — is permitted in Oceanport at the moment.
“Almost everyone is a little timid,” Drazin said. “But if everyone says they don’t want to go first, how will we ever move forward?”
Fixed odds — where, unlike parimutel betting, “the price you bet is the price you get” regardless of whether late money rolls in on your horse — is designed to appeal to younger gamblers who are used to getting fixed odds on mainstream sports bets.
Drazin said that his track also will have its mobile fixed-odds app up and running in the next few weeks. As for betting on European races with fixed odds for New Jerseyans, Baker said that could go live “within the next few weeks” — and that it has an appeal for mobile betting customers who seek a “24/7” time frame of gambling options, with differing time zones helping the cause.
Exchange wagering may return
From 2017-2019, New Jersey residents and visitors had a variety of other options called “exchange wagering” that are common in the United Kingdom and Australia.
Among them, you could bet on a horse NOT to win; bet on which of two horses will have a better finish, regardless of their final placement overall; and bet on a race in the middle of a race.
“We’re going to try again,” Drazin said of exchange wagering, in which bettors set their own odds and see if there is a willing partner on the other side of the bet.
The in-race betting is “where the money is,” Drazin said, although he admits it’s been personally difficult for him to embrace as a lifelong horseman.
“When the exchange started and I went to the racetrack to watch the race, I was too focused on watching the [ever-changing in-race] odds on my phone to really enjoy the race,” Drazin said. “But the gambler doesn’t care.”
Photo: Peter Ackerman/Imagn Content Services