Betting on horses has been around for over 100 years in the U.S. and was the primary gambling outlet in most states in the first half of the 20th century. When competing with boxing and baseball in popularity, the difference that stood out with horse racing was the ability to bet on the sport, which attracted a lot of attention.
However, over the last 30 years, states have legalized more gambling outlets from lotteries, casino gaming, and now sports betting. The expansion of gambling in the U.S. pushed horse racing to the side, as the sport did not know how to adapt to the competition that came its way.
1/ST Technology CEO Paul Williams sees horse racing differently and is looking to give the sport a modern makeover and change how bettors handicap a race.
“I believe there is a great opportunity in modernizing the last remaining historic sport. 1/ST encompasses all the aspects to succeed in this quest. So far, I’m really proud of the journey we have started on and the progress we have made in the last 2 years,” said Williams.
1/ST BET wants to bring horse racing into the 21st century with handicapping and betting technology to help horse racing bettors make more informed decisions on a race. 1/ST also wants to do this while making horse safety and horse care one of the top priorities.
Operating in 38 states, including Alberta, Canada, 1/ST BET uses patented and proprietary technology to analyze current races and compare them with historical data. The handicapping technology finds predictive factors off similar races and then finds the best value for the upcoming race.
Williams stated that he and his team are seeing bettors transition from paper past performances to digital past performances. “We can see an increase in the percentage of winning favorites over the years, and that increase can be partially attributed to the fact that players have better tools and more data to help them handicap,” Williams said.
The app isn’t just for avid horse racing bettors, either. 1/ST BET is an app for any bettor, no matter how much experience they have with the sport. Thanks to the data and technology that has gone into the handicapping tools, bettors can sort through the variables and numbers to find the best factors they think will help them win a bet. Advanced bettors can even create their own algorithms based on the data 1/ST BET is providing to the sport.
“We are building tools that give our customers the ability to handicap within our app and web sites. These tools provide additional insight for the experienced horseplayer and also help level the playing field for the new fan,” said Williams.
Reviving the Sport
In 2016, a Harris Poll showed that only one percent of the U.S. said that horse racing was their favorite sport and ranked 13th overall in popularity behind swimming and track and field.
In 2002, the horse racing market had close to 33,000 registered horses and a betting handle of $15 billion. In 2018, that dropped to less than 20,000 horses and an $11 billion handle.
The historical sport has no doubt declined in popularity and continues to see numbers drop from viewers, betting handle, and registered racing thoroughbreds. However, this is not scaring 1/ST away from transforming the industry and bringing back horse racing in a big way.
Williams said, “In many ways, horse racing was slow to adapt to this competition, but 1/ST is committed to modernizing our sport whether fans are in their homes or at one of our world-class facilities.”
1/ST BET is also investing in the sport from the ground up and looking at a horse racing resurgence. The goal for 1/ST is to create a successful business model while ensuring everyone who works in the industry is cared for. Williams and his team want to make sure they deliver on the horse racing experience for the fans.
As for the fans, horse racing is seeing the average horse racing bettor is in their 50s and 60s, while also seeing a decline in the 20s to 40s demographic. 1/ST appreciates the fans who continue to follow the sport and address how to attract a younger audience back to horse racing.
“1/ST is attacking this opportunity on every touchpoint we have with our customer. At the tracks, our teams are working to modernize the horse racing experience, leveraging technology to bring an on-demand, digital experience to our customers,” Williams said.
Williams also believes the technology will attract millennials into horse racing since the generation is tech-savvy and data-driven. Being able to handicap horse racing with the historical data 1/ST brings to the app will help attract avid and novice horse racing bettors.
Williams also understands transparency will be essential to attract the younger audience. 1/ST BET has also created a live team that brought 100,000 horse racing fans together. In 2019, Diplo parachuted onto the infield at one of the events.
The horse racing company is also going beyond the business model and is also looking to help keep the sport safer for everyone involved.
“1/ST is leading the way with its 1/ST Safety initiatives, this includes all aspects of medication, examination, breeding, and ownership. The goal is the make the sport safer and better for everyone – horse through to wager,” said Williams.
The push for horse racing safety also comes when California and New Jersey are changing whipping laws that keep the horses safer during a race. Ensuring that the racing horses are being protected in a race and how they are raised and trained is important to 1/ST Bet.
The Quest for Success
1/ST BET wants to revive the horse racing industry and grow the technology into other fields. The company is looking into sports betting, and other pari-mutuel betting applications like eSports, state lotteries, automobile racing, and more.
1/ST BET believes if it can change how bettors handicap the horse racing industry, it can also use the technology in other gambling industries. For now, the goal is to continue its growth in horse racing and to make sure that everyone involved, from the bettors to the horses, are taken care of.
“I believe 1/ST will continue to lead the way in technology adoption in the sport, raise the standard and safety of our athletes, and push the sport into a leading gambling and venue experience.”