2nd of December 2012 Author: Glo Wood
New York-based online gambling start-up company, Derby Jackpot is beta testing an online game that lets players bet real money on live horse races via electronic devices which will open to the public in 2013.
As Derby Jackpot's chief product officer Walter Hessert announced: 'It's the first social horse-betting game that makes it easy to bet, watch and win online.'
The company was founded by a team of brothers, Tom, Walter and Bill Hessert, and CTO Eric Gay. This week it declared a partnership with payments company Dwolla, and gave the NY tech world a chance to check it out at special events.
The owner brothers are backed by a team of experts that includes a veteran lawyer from the horse racing industry, a former Zynga designer, and Steven Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics, who works with Bill Hessert on horse-picking strategies.
In real money action, players will deposit money from a credit card, prepaid card, or via the Dwolla payments service, placing bets online or via mobile on the horses in the next live race, represented by identical avatars with different-coloured masks.
Horse racing industry statistics and jargon is different, simpler and more understandable on Derby Jackpot. It is dominated by animations, chatrooms and other more socially-oriented features making the experience easy and fun.
There is also just the horse name and its odds. Bets are as low as $2 and can pay out as much as $2,000. Once the results come in, the site encourages players to tweet their winnings. Its owners hope it will revitalise interest among a younger, more hip demographic to whom technology represents no fears or barriers.
Early signs of punter interest have been encouraging, with the average age of Derby Jackpot beta trialists around 35 who bet on the races via provided iPads, also using their mobiles to tweet wins and comments.
Reviewing the new offering one of the users wrote: "Think FarmVille or Draw Something, but with players betting on live streamed races. Because it's built around horse racing, it's legal in 29 states."
"Online betting is definitely the future. Demystifying it for a casual fan is the number one priority, and making online channels accessible to new fans is important," said Mike Salvar, an entrepreneur who worked for the consulting firm McKinsey and Company.
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