Betting on horses at New York’s thoroughbred tracks could soon be as easy as pushing buttons on a BlackBerry.
Officials from the state Racing and Wagering Board gave conditional approval Thursday to a measure that will bring betting from the pari-mutuel windows to a variety of hand-held electronic devices. Next week, a group of around 100 customers who are registered with the New York Racing Association’s Internet wagering system will be invited to conduct a trial run of the new platform, which will first be offered on BlackBerry devices.
“With the board’s approval today, NYRA is able to move a step closer to begin to offer this wagering platform when the final testing is completed,” said Daniel Toomey, a spokesman for the Racing and Wagering Board.
Provided that the trial run is successful, the hand-held digital wagering will be expanded to all of NYRA’s online bettors sometime within the next six weeks. The goal is to expand the service to both the iPhone and digital devices running Windows CE so that bettors can more easily access NYRA’s live wagering pool from wherever they are.
“You can take it on the go and you can check results,” NYRA spokesman Tom Thill said. “We’re hoping it makes it more convenient for our customers.”
Bettors using mobile devices will first need to sign up for Rewards, NYRA’s Internet wagering system. They will then be sent a link where they can download software allowing them to access a special server connected to the live wagering pool.
Betting from a hand-held device will have all of the features included with the online platform, including information on horses and odds, scratches and race results. The hand-held platform will include all of the same wagers offered at trackside betting windows.
The new online platform was made possible after the state Legislature legalized some forms of online gambling in 2006. NYRA launched the Rewards system shortly after receiving its final approvals in April 2007.
Four months after the Rewards program was launched, NYRA hired the Manhattan-based Sona Mobile to develop the software for hand-held devices. Thill said closed-circuit testing of the software was conducted last month without a hitch.
“The next step is to test it live,” he said.
Toomey said Thursday’s approval will allow NYRA to move forward with the wireless device wagering once they have submitted successful results from the live tests.
Thill said Rewards customers wagering at Belmont Park next week will be the first to use the system. And while he’s not anticipating a sudden surge in new wireless device users, he said the new wagering platform will certainly appeal to certain groups of customers.
“Anytime you add another outlet, it should help,” he said.