23rd of April 2013 Author: Johnny Karp
As gambling company results in recent times have repeatedly illustrated the popularity of mobile and in-play betting on sports events, with usage soaring among a new tech-savvy generation of punters, The Jockey Club, which owns around 15 of UK's top racecourses, is reportedly in talks with media partner Racecourse Media Group with a view to increasing the Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G networks at its race venues.
This would widen accessibility via smart phones and tablets in particular, opening the way to a broader and perhaps more convenient way of wagering, but traditional racecourse bookies, with their colorful language and hand signals, who are very much a part of the racing experience, are unlikely to be pleased with that move.
Commenting on the poor phone reception at racecourses due to the size of the grounds and the number of people at any event causing data traffic jams, Richard FitzGerald, CEO of Racecourse Media Group, representing of 33 UK racecourses, worth GBP46 million last year, said: "Racecourses are considering the technical complexities of wi-fi access and developing business plans around the substantial investment required."
The Jockey Club spokesman said the company was considering the position of on-course bookies because they were "...an absolutely vital part of the theatre of race day."
A spokesman for the bookies, Rob Grossmith of the Rails Bookmakers Association, replied: "It will be worse for us if connectivity gets better. If it was up to me I'd pull the plug on the whole thing. We're all competing for the punters' pound and it's getting easier for people to just tap their phones and bet rather than betting with the racecourse bookmakers, particularly if it's raining or they've run out of cash."
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