Horse racing betting handle is plummeting, field sizes are shrinking, the industry seems to constantly be rocked with scandal, horseplayers are exiting looking for more value with their gambling dollar as takeout rises and the gloom and doom of the sport continues.
While marketing efforts by the Jockey Club, Breeders’ Cup and America’s Best Racing seem to be making inroads into bringing new fans to the racetrack, without betting dollars flowing though the betting windows and online wagering accounts, the sport will continue to decline.
Is it possible three brothers with no horse racing background could rejuvenate the sport? Nah, that would be pure silliness according to this hardcore horseplayer.
But wait a second, nobody in the industry seems to be driving the bus, maybe three guys that don’t know the difference between a ridgling and a gelding can get the job done.
Walter Hessert along with his brothers Tom and Bill are the creators of the online wagering site Derby Jackpot through their company Giddy Apps.
With a declining population among horseplayers, the Hesserts have gone after the Facebook crowd, players that are more interested in playing Farmville or Candy Crush than heading out to the local racetrack for the afternoon.
40 Million Playing on Social Media
It is estimated that over 40 million play these games on Facebook, and judging from the amount of irritating game invites I get for Candy Crush, I would have estimated that total to be much higher.
In two short years, over 200,000 players have signed up and played at Derby Jackpot, a phenomenal number, and those betting dollars are going directly into the betting pools.
“Derby Jackpot is geared to slot players and people who play social casino on Facebook and we’ve done well at targeting them and crafting our message to them,” Walter Hessert told Bob Ehalt of ESPN. “It’s also very much a social experience. We get an incredible amount of social interaction between our players, to the point where I’ve seen talking in our chat rooms about organizing trips to the track. And these are people who never had interest in following horse racing. We have a player who is posting photos on Instagram from his horse racing man cave and he’s 30 and had never bet horses before. We’re keeping people engaged in a way that they will come back.”
There is no need for studying past performances or handicapping when playing at Derby Jackpot. Players can play games that look like a slot machine, card game, or just pick a horse at random.
You will not see the words win, exacta, or trifectas prominently displayed. The wagers have names like the Donkey Bet, Granny Bet, The Gonzo and The Fiddy.
The brothers have made it simple, and even included a social aspect by adding a chat room so players can converse while playing the ponies.
For hardcore horseplayers the idea of placing a Fiddy bet by spinning a slot machine may sound ridiculous, but wait a darn minute, there is plenty for us to gain by the success of Derby Jackpot.
Easy and Fun Wagering
Wagering on the ponies day in and day out has become more difficult as handle has shrunk. There is not nearly as much unsophisticated or “dumb money” in the betting pools compared to decades ago, with the exception perhaps of the Triple Crown races and the Breeders’ Cup. Finding value on an average Wednesday at Aqueduct has become increasingly difficult.
With the majority of Derby Jackpot players betting numbers at random, horseplayers will not only see larger wagering pools, but also more value.
It also offers Derby Jackpot players value. While the blended takeout on horse racing is higher than for a typical slot machine at a casino, Hessert estimates that 95% of Derby Jackpot members play the lottery.
Many lottery players don’t know it but the takeout for playing the daily number and scratch off tickets can approach 50%, a rate that is virtually impossible to beat. They would be much wiser to play Derby Jackpot than wasting time with scratch offs at the local 7-11.
With live video of the races, there is no doubt playing Derby Jackpot is going to be more exciting that sending your Aunt Alice a Farmville request for a hoe on Facebook.
And next time you are standing in line for 20 minutes at 7-11 trying to buy a pack of gum only to have the lady in front of you playing 25 Lotto tickets, tell her about Derby Jackpot.
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