Horse betting and new technology are two phrases not typically in the same sentence.
The current horse betting product features an outdated tote system, often relying on manual controls to maintain fairness in wagering pools, along with a host of other technological hurdles criticized by horseplayers.
Last weekend’s Breeders’ Cup, however, for the first time, featured shared wallet technology for online players. FanDuel spent 18 months developing the ability for customers to use a single deposit to bet across sports, horses, and online casino with the same funds.
Core horse betting customers take advantage
FanDuel rolled out the offering in December last year. Since then, 650,000 customers used the shared wallet to wager across multiple channels.
Andrew Moore, general manager of FanDuel Racing, told LSR last week the total is a “double-digit percentage” of FanDuel’s overall customer base.
“It might not be a huge amount of customers, but these are your core customers that really drive your product, especially on the racing side, where, let’s be honest, they are a little bit grayer,” he said.
FanDuel app offers new tech
FanDuel is the only online operator to offer this technology to horseplayers.
The operator credits the shared wallet for bringing sportsbook customers over to racing, which it says led to a more than 20% increase in Triple Crown betting handle year-over-year.
“There is a reason why no one else has done this. It is hard, but it is not that people do not know how to do it. It takes a lot of resources, it takes a lot of time,” Moore said.
Several other online sportsbooks with horse betting apps, including DraftKings and Caesars, are reportedly working on developing the technology. However, neither has provided a definitive timeline for completion.
Operator to continue tech development
Moore said FanDuel views the shared wallet as a critical differentiator and the company will continue to invest heavily in it.
“(There are) different product challenges crossing between sportsbook and casino. When people get that right, it really makes a huge difference on market share,” Moore said.
FanDuel is the overall US sports betting leader, responsible for around 37% of the total betting volume this year. DraftKings, though, continues to narrow the gap between the two.
Shifting horse betting experience
FanDuel rebranded the horse racing-centric TVG Network last year to FanDuel TV. While the network still features predominantly racing content, it has weaved more mainstream professional sports content into its programming.
A key focus for FanDuel is integrating its network content into its mobile betting products to appeal to a younger generation of horse betting customers.
“How do we make the product more interesting and take it into the next century?” Moore said. “In the next six to 18 months, (the content) will feel much more aligned.”
Horse betting handle down, but where is interest up?
Nationwide horse betting handle reached $880.6 million in September, down 6% from $935.6 million in September 2022. According to data from Equibase, September marked 12 consecutive months of year-over-year declines.
Breeders’ Cup betting was down nearly 7% compared to last year as well.
“Dollars are declining in some jurisdictions more so than others. You will see in some spots dollars are actually quite strong or up, and that has been driven largely because of FanDuel’s racing integration into sportsbook,” Moore said.
Moore added FanDuel is seeing more interest in its horse betting product in states with racetracks, like Kentucky, which launched online sports betting a month ago.
Looking into horse betting crystal ball
Many horse racing content providers believe the betting product needs to move beyond the traditional parimutuel wagering system.
Mirroring a typical sports betting menu with fixed odds, prop-style wagers, and future markets could make horse betting easier to understand for newcomers.
It would also open more wagering opportunities for seasoned horseplayers.
Fixed odds push into US horse betting
A recent BetMakers study found two-thirds of US sports betting customers would participate in horse betting if fixed odds were available.
Right now, only Monmouth Park in New Jersey offers an online fixed odds product through its MonmouthBets app.
BetMakers, the Australian-based gaming company, recently announced further investment into US-based fixed odds.
US-based operators aligned, too
Johnny Avello, director of race and sportsbook operations at DraftKings, told LSR this summer he would welcome a fixed odds product.
Moore believes a fixed-odds product from FanDuel would appeal to the next generation of horseplayers, though he understands the industry’s hesitation to embrace it.
“It is a huge opportunity when you think about the cross-sell opportunity with sportsbook customers. It will be unfortunate in five years’ time if they realize this is something they should have been doing now,” Moore said.
Fixed odds would open the wagering menu for different bets, similar to the popular Same Game Parlays in sports. FanDuel first offered the combination wagers in 2019. Since then, the bet type has become a critical operational component for every online sportsbook.