By Patrick Patten, Handride
I have been mulling this over in my head for months now, but with Ed DeRosa's recent post I figured I'd add my .02 cents into what I'm looking for with social interaction from any horse racing website. First, as fans we deserve more than we are getting. I understand signing into websites, but I have no idea what I'm getting in return for providing that information when it comes to horse racing websites. I think it is about time these sites put some resources behind this sign-in to make it worth our while.
My thinking..... On Saturday I wake up to find my wonderful wife has taken my 3 wonderful kids away for the day, and Daddy has the day for himself. There's even that day's DRF on the table 'cause she figured that's what I would do. But it's raining out and my friends aren't going to Monmouth, so I'm left to watch it on TV, and to bet online.
I log on to the website (or maybe an app). I have a little interface like I do on most sites: I have friends, I can see what they are saying, I’m friends with some tracks and I’m getting their scratches, weather, and news. However, my focus is at Monmouth Park this morning. So, I check-in to Monmouth Park. I'm not quite the mayor there, but I've earned the badge "degenerate" and in a couple more weeks I'm sure I'll be mayor. Other users are here talking about that day of racing, bets, conditions -- just chattering on this enclosed feed. Some information right at my fingertips: MTP, PP's (I can purchase), basic info like runner's name, trainer, jockey, odds, race info. Furthermore, there are links to ADW's handling that track so I can go make a bet, but I can also place my bet w/ this website (fake money of course).
I have options when doing this. I can keep it all private or I can go public with my picks in hopes of gaining some credibility with the community, points with the website, and just to strike up some conversations. This website makes it easy for me to track my bets: I put them in like other sites and the site tracks them and calculates my payoffs. The site also goes one step further in analyzing my bets; slicing and dicing them to help me figure out what I’m good at, and more likely what I’m not good at. Since I’m home alone -- and not gambling millions -- I’m going public with my wagering. I place a bet, and it comes up in the group feed,"Handride: $5 W/S on #5 in race 2 (stats)."
What is that "Stats"? Well the site will use my prior history to publish how I do on these type of wagers. Think of the trainer line at the bottom of PP's -- but for gamblers. Cool, right? So I can watch other players make wagers, and if I see something I like from someone who has a good record I'll probably jump on his bandwagon; maybe if I don't like the bet I can "back" it. It's fake money of course so this type of exchange is no big deal.
Why would a good gambler put their picks out there? Why not! I don't think everyone will do it, but there are some people who like to open with their bets to gain popularity and credibility, so people will do it. Popularity and credibility aren't all a public wager will get you. A gambler earns "points" by all manner of things: Obviously with money earned, but also hitting the biggest exacta of the day, or hitting a super, backing the most of other's peoples bets and coming out on top... you can take your points and gift them to other users who helped you score, or you could turn in your points for something from the site, like an upgrade on your next purchase of PP's or other types of discounts. We're talking A LOT of points; most social sites just have points/karma/likes that get you nothing. While I'm betting at Monmouth I can check into Saratoga and have the same experience and now I'm getting the feeds of both tracks and placing wagers and interacting w/ other people from both places. It's as close to being on the rail, and in some ways would be better. The key for any successful website isn’t making an experience like something else, but by making it better.
Why would a site do it? This idea obviously will take resources, including money. Maybe they sell PP's, or other wagering information which this site/app would help create demand for. Maybe they are an ADW and do this for their fake money site as it does link to ADW’s for real betting. Either way the site creates a captive audience which is what all sites want. The more time users spend on the site, the better it is for the site itself.