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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Aussie wins Innovators’ Circle prize at Global Symposium

SWOP Stakes, a racing jackpot based on multiple race outcomes, received a $15,000 cash prize for winning the Innovators’ Circle at the wrap-up session of the Global Symposium on Racing & Gaming in Tucson, Arizona on Wednesday.

SWOP Stakes was developed in Australia by Shaun Pyrah, Director of Strategy for Six Faces, an interactive wagering company. The three-judge panel deemed it the most promising of the four finalists in the Innovators’ Circle, a pitch contest to drive innovation in horse racing.

Doug Reed, Director of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program which sponsored the Symposium, presented Pyrah the trophy symbolic of winning the Innovators’ Circle award. Reed said that the Innovators’ Circle would be continued and refined for the 2016 Symposium.

Submissions to the Innovators’ Circle contest came from five continents. The contest, which is based on the TV show “Shark Tank”, was developed by gaming author Vin Narayan and Hai Ng, partner of Neomancer LLC, in conjunction with the Race Track Industry Program.

The other finalists consisted of pitches for an Equine Standing 3D CT Scanner;  “20 Wins A Million,” a no-cost game sponsored by tracks to attract millennials; and the Thoroughbred Stock Exchange, a new model for horse ownership.

Judges of the Innovators’ Circle were John Ford, CEO of BAM Software & Services, LLC; John Hartig, Chairman and CEO of the Daily Racing Form; and Mike Tanner, executive vice-president and CEO of U.S. Trotting Association.

The judges asked the presenters extensive questions after they finished their pitches.  Members of the audience were also given the chance to quiz Innovators’ Circle speakers.

Audience members had a chance to pick their favorite pitch in the Innovators’ Circle who received a $1,000 prize. They voted for the Equine Standing 3D CT Scanner, which has the potential to prevent catastrophic breakdowns by pinpointing horses most susceptible to injuries while racing.

An interesting Wednesday afternoon session addressed “Serious Realities in Fantasy Sports.”

Hai Ng moderated the panel of three on-site speakers with Sen. Raymond Lesniak of New Jersey participating via Skype.

Lesniak said that due to pending court cases, New Jersey is “in limbo” regarding the regulation of fantasy.

He also indicated that people in New Jersey are looking at bringing “historical racing” to the state’s race tracks.

John Ford, CEO of BAM Software & Services LLC, said that he believes that fantasy sports at tracks would help racing because the fantasy sports bettor and the horse racing bettor are remarkably similar people.

“They are both analyzing data and placing wagers,” Ford said.

Jack McGrail of the Oregon Racing Commission disagreed and said he saw no benefit of having tracks offer fantasy sports wagering. “It would not help the pari-mutuel handle”, said McGrail.

Speakers from around the globe came to Tucson to provide an international perspective on simulcasting. They discussed the challenges of different laws, the importance of accurate post times, foreign currency concerns, and the varying cultures of horse racing and wagering.

Moderator Scott Finley addressed the difficulty that pari-mutuel wagering systems have in bucking the well-established bookmaking culture in the United Kingdom, a huge betting market.

Rene Schneider with TSG Global Wagering Solutions, LLC emphasized that when entering markets in new countries, racetracks must tailor their product and pricing to the local landscape.  

In a session titled “Fixing Racing,” Dr. Jennifer Durenberger, a veterinarian, lawyer and past racing commission official said “Of all the things that racing commissions do, the most underfunded is investigation. That ‘boots on the ground’ piece is very critical.”

Durenberger is now COO of Racing Matters.

The Symposium concluded with a “Hasta La Vista” fiesta at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort.

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