Vice president of harness racing wagering – apply now

November 6, 2017

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by Dean Towers

I saw a press release last week from an online gaming company announcing their new betting portal for eSports wagering. As you may know, eSports wagering involves betting on teams of gamers who compete in video game tournaments for League of Legends, Dota 2 and Starcraft, among others.

The new portal this book has created is rich with information. At the site you can not only learn about the games, and bets, you can deep dive into what it takes to become a winner. Articles on calculating betting margins and positive expected value are featured.

This offshore gaming company took its first eSports bet in 2010, and set benchmarks for growth in the years shortly thereafter.

“[We] passed the 5 million eSport bet milestone earlier this year, and I was projecting to reach 10 million by January 2018. With the relaunch of our eSports Hub I may have to revise that prediction,” said Marco Blume, trading director.

They have taken it upon themselves as a business to sell the sport to gamblers, to offer good odds on the games, and be a one-stop shop for everything eSports. They believe as eSports grows, so do they, and they’ve taken ownership in its growth.

As I looked further into this strategy and subsequent offering, something dawned on me.

Where is the one-stop shop that sells harness racing to gamblers; who offers great odds; who gives customers everything they need to be a harness racing customer? Where’s the harness racing betting portal?

There isn’t one.

The USTA and Standardbred Canada are member websites. You can get information from track websites, but they’re disparate and have no focus. Twinspires and TVG (and other ADW’s) are primarily thoroughbred betting hubs. And rather than teaching players how to gamble on a sport, these sites simply look to service existing customers.

Harness racing has been around since the 1800’s, while eSports has been around since about 2010. One has a partners and a portal to push the sport (and the bet). They have executives building a plan to grow the bet. The other has virtually nothing.

If you had to wager on which sport takes more bets next year than they do this year – harness racing or eSports – who’s your money on?

I think it’s time for harness racing – lead by someone, somewhere in the “Department of Harness Racing” – to send out a resume call for a vice president of wagering.

It’s not like this is a fairy tale position, drummed up by someone who writes a column on the internet. There actually is a vice president of wagering for a sport – in Hong Kong, at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. This man pushes the bet, sells it, and studies it to maximize it, not much unlike the way the offshore book above structures and sells eSports.

This position sure came in handy back in 2006.

At that time, wagering on the sport in Hong Kong was being attacked mercilessly by offshore books and the competition that was rapidly coming online. In ‘06, handle on Hong Kong horse racing shrunk to $7.7 billion U.S. (for comparison, harness racing does about $2 billion U.S. in handle) and something needed to be done, quickly.

It was.

Immediately, the vice president of wagering created a new plan to reward existing punters looking for more value, while at the same time encouraging the subset of people Hong Kong racing was losing, to increase their play.
In year two, it began to work. On tickets worth about $1,000 U.S. and above, new money increased by 57-78 per cent, volume shifted from other gambling avenues, and revenues with the program’s target increased 60 per cent. Gross handle increased $500 million U.S., or 6.4 per cent, halting the slide.

The sport in Hong Kong has never looked back. In 2016, Hong Kong horse racing generated about $14 billion (U.S.) in handle; near double from what it was only a decade ago.

Harness racing is a glorious game, with thousands upon thousands of animals, being taken care of and raced by thousands and thousands of people. These equines and their caretakers are being looked after by slot machines, horsemen groups, USTA Presidents, farms, and dozens of alphabets. That’s all well and good.

But who takes care of the bet?

I sincerely hope it’s the vice president of harness racing wagering. If you’re interested, send me your resume. I’ll try and pass it along.

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