A Boost for the Dogs

3 May 2004

Florida-based Rosnet Racing International wants to boost business by offering Internet-based services to greyhound bettors. The company in March launched a new interface on its Web site that permits users with an account at an Oregon-based wagering hub to view live streaming video.

Rosnet provides a greyhound racing office system for 28 U.S. dog tracks. The group doesn't accept wagers, but it provides an immense database of dog racing content and information to bettors. The database is not only vital to the tracks' management teams, but also to owners, trainers and breeders. The public can access the information for free at www.rosnet2000.com.

The idea, says Rosnet President and CEO Lesley O'Connell, is to catalyze betting via Internet services and ultimately help the greyhound industry as a whole.

"We publish a free extended service on the Internet that we thought would enhance the industry itself, giving an opportunity for those who own, breed, train, and are fans of either post racing or current racing activity to search our server with about 250,000 greyhounds and ten years of racing history that we bothered to archive," O'Connell said. "You can also get the entries and the results of the racetracks that run our racing office system for free."

In the early years of the Internet, Rosnet developed a slow-bandwidth rebroadcast service for which the race tracks paid a fee. The service was made free to the public, giving them the ability to watch and listen to the races, but the transmission was neither live, nor fast enough to provide a precise and detailed view of every second of the race.

That is, until March 22, 2004, when the company started a new live, high-quality webcasting service. This service is also free, but only to registered users of US Off-Track, an Oregon-based wagering hub. Visitors to Rosnet2000.com need only enter their US Off-Track username and password to gain access to the live streaming content.

US Off-Track has operated a pari-mutuel hub in Oregon since December 1999. The company began operating in April 2000 under the name "Greyhound Channel." US Off-Track's account holders can only place race wagers on the types of racing that is legal in their states of residence.

Rosnet receives no fee from US Off-Track or anyone else for the new interface. But as O' Connell explains, Rosnet benefits from the arrangement because it nourishes the entire greyhound racing industry.

"As online wagering evolved it became obvious to us when the Oregon hub opened up that if we could direct people to them, then the tracks would mutually gain from the return, and it would eventually get back into the pockets of the owners and the breeders again. It keeps the cash flow going and keeps the interest of the tracks going. And we do collect our fee for broadcasting on the slow-band broadcast."

With Rosnet's streaming broadcast, bettors can wager while they watch races. Rosnet's network uses communication software that exists on the user's computer and acts like a telephone terminal, allowing the bettor to place wagers directly with US Off-Track. Alternatively, the bettor could place a telephone wager.

"The part that benefits us is that we would like those 28 race tracks we do business with to stay in business," said O' Connell. "The gaming at their racetrack was declining based on their attendance, so they all reached out with this simulcast. Now the simulcast market has grown tremendously and it has benefited the industry. Now we have got an extended simulcast market called online wagering through these Oregon hubs and that association, so when people come to our site and glean a lot of information, it makes them feel a little more prepared at making a better educated wager. They feel more confident, they make wagers through the Oregon hub, the money comes back to the racetracks, and everybody stays in business. That's the relationship. The relationship is maintaining the ability to keep money coming through these racetracks for the benefit of racing from every angle: ownership, breeding and betting."

Rosnet also provides a play-for-fun wagering service through which players compete to make the leader board. While it provides fun entertainment for the users, the play-wagering system also serves to educate users about the dogs and racing, eventually making them more confident bettors who will make a larger contribution to the industry as real-money bettors.

Rosnet has 30,000 active members and encourages all of them to do their homework when it comes to pari-mutuel greyhound wagering.

Bradley Vallerius

Articles by Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials. Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

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