PointsBet Racing Coming To Illinois, VP Predicts It Will Transform Horse Racing

Written By Dave Briggs on May 4, 2023
Rich Strike winning the 2022 Kentucky Derby

PointsBet launched its new horse racing app this morning, just in time for the Kentucky Derby. But those that bet on sports in Illinois will have to wait to use PointsBet Racing.

Paul Hannon, senior vice president of corporate development for PointsBet told PlayIllinois:

“We look forward to receiving approval from the Illinois Racing Board as soon as is viable and launching the app soon in partnership with our partner, the preeminent leader in Illinois horse racing, Hawthorne [Race Course].

“It is innovative product investment like the PointsBet Racing app and the accompanying halo marketing impact that is going to spur the future growth and sustainability of horse racing in the state.”

To be clear, PointsBet’s main sports betting apps is alive and well in Illinois. It ranks fourth in the state in terms of market share among the seven legal apps with nearly 8% of the total market.

Horse racing now embracing sports betting

The horse racing industry that once fought the onslaught of sports betting is now embracing it.

“A common misnomer out there is that the proliferation of sports betting is a challenge for horse racing, and that couldn’t be more inaccurate,” Hannon said. “After a few years of trying to figure out the best way to play it, the dominant horse racing players in the US have adopted an evolved strategy that sports betting is a means for further distribution of their content, the races.

“It is a transformative opportunity for [the horse racing industry] to get horse racing in front of millions of more eyes every year. And, specifically, the correlation between the marketing dollars spent behind these new products, like our new PointsBet Racing app, will allow them to distribute their content on a much wider basis than it ever has done before. So, if I’m a horse racing industry stakeholder that has a mandate to grow the sport and generate additional revenue dollars for the ecosystem, I would partner with companies like PointsBet.”

And, despite the incredible growth of betting on other sports in Illinois, Hannon said horse racing is an important part of PointsBet’s mix.

“As operators begin to mature their products, from a content perspective, horse racing is an integral piece of the sporting calendar. We identified this early on because our company has its deep roots in the sport, both in American and globally.

“We view horse racing as having the potential to crack back into the top 10 most wagered on sports in the US.  That’s what we’re positioning to do with the PointsBet Racing business and a great partner like 1ST TECHNOLOGY, beginning with ADW.”

PointsBet Racing now live in 25 states, but not yet Illinois

PointsBet Racing is now live in 25 other states. A press release says it is a standalone app that will “allow PointsBet users to immerse themselves in a modern, all-in-one horse racing experience.”

In October 2022, PointsBet announced a multi-year strategic partnership with 1/ST TECHNOLOGY, a business division of Thoroughbred racing giant The Stronach Group. 1/ST TECHNOLOGY powers the advance deposit pari-mutuel wagering platform for PointsBet Racing.

The press release said PointsBet Racing “features the world’s top tracks, including content from each leg of the coveted Triple Crown, with over 180 tracks total from the US, UK, Ireland, Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia. PointsBet Racing will include live streaming and replay capabilities, single user account sign on, deep link integration across PointsBet digital products, top statistical and favorite factor compilation, new user educational tools, as well as seamless deposit and withdrawal capabilities.”

Johnny Aitken, PointsBet USA CEO said in the release: “The launch of PointsBet Racing marks a significant milestone in our efforts to expand our product portfolio and capture the tremendous potential of the US horse racing market. We are optimistic about replicating the success we have seen in mature global betting markets where racing is a huge engagement channel next to sports. This new offering will contribute to the growth of online horse racing in the US and we are excited to get live in advance of one of the most important racing events of the year.”

PointsBet Racing is now live in the following states, including nine (in bold) that do not have legal regulated sports betting, yet :

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Pari-mutuel betting is an entirely different gambling system

Fixed-odds betting is what is found on the seven regulated Illinois sports betting apps. But pari-mutuel betting is an entirely different way to gamble.

Pari-mutuel wagering is a system in which bets are pooled, the house take is deducted and the payoff odds are calculated by sharing the pool among all winning bets. The system is critical to supporting the costly exercise of owning and campaigning racehorses and putting on the horse racing product.

But, unlike fixed odds, pari-mutuel odds fluctuate based on the money wagered on each horse. For example, one might bet a horse at 10-1 odds. But by the time the race goes off, the bets of other punters might drop that same horse’s odds to 5-1. So, while you might have bet at 10-1, what you end up getting is 5-1 odds.

The advantage of the pari-mutuel system is you are betting against other gamblers, not the house. So, horse racing knowledge and expertise can improve your chances against less savvy handicappers.

To date, pari-mutuel betting has proven difficult to integrate into regular sports betting apps due to its different wagering system. That’s why PointsBet Racing is a separate app, for now. Though, it is anticipated that it won’t be long until pari-mutuel betting is integrated into main sports betting apps.

All of which is moot at least for this year, if you were hoping to bet on the Kentucky Derby in Illinois through PointsBet Racing.

Fixed odds betting on horse racing is also coming, at some point

Hannon said fixed-odds betting on horse racing will also be offered, eventually.

“It’s going to take some time and needs to be done diligently as far as the economics,” Hannon said. “But there’s a bridge to be built from the pari-mutuel system to one that has fixed odds racing incorporated on every major sports betting platform in the space. I do think it’ll take a few years though, especially in states where legislative appetites may be a bit weary of gaming or racing bills.

“ADW is still the avenue for growth in racing today and so we are introducing PointsBet Racing to our players.  But I for one cannot wait for live, in race fixed odds betting on horses after the gates have opened.  Now that is going to be exciting.”

Photo by Jeff Roberson / AP Photo
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Dave Briggs

Dave Briggs is a managing editor and writer for Catena Media. His expertise is covering the gambling industry in North America with an emphasis on the casino, sports betting, horse racing and poker sectors. He is currently reporting on the gaming industries in Illinois and Canada.

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