An interactive betting option that has long been a popular avenue for Asian punters has now landed in the United States.
US Off-Track has become the first America-based firm to offer Wireless Application Platform (WAP) betting. WAP betting allows punters to place bets and monitor their bets and races via a Personal Digital Assistant device such as a Palm Pilot or a WAP-enabled mobile phone.
Since April of last year US Off-Track has been offering account wagering through its website, www.usofftrack.com. The site enabled users to place bets on greyhound, harness and thoroughbred races at over 40 tracks across the U.S. and Australia.
The company has also been operating toll-free numbers through which bettors can place wagers via the telephone. Company officials are hoping that being the first to finish line in the WAP race in the United States will help the company supplant itself as a leader in the industry.
Pat Brennan, a spokesperson for the company, said although the new option has only been available for a short time, the response has been overwhelming from those who have seen it.
"The response has been excellent," Brennan said. "Everyone that we have showed it to has been thrilled. We have shown it to host tracks, owners, business, customers, and they all have been amazed with it."
Lorilee A. Goodall with US Off-Track feels that the presence of the firm will help in bringing punters to mobile phones and handheld devices.
"We do have a good customer base already," she said. "Oregon passed a law allowing for account wagering and we were able to jump right in."
US Off-Track’s site was able to draw in new punters, but Goodall predicts the WAP option could see some cross over from those who are still just using their telephone.
"We have a lot of new gamblers playing online," she said. "The Internet has drawn a lot of people that have never really wagered before. The WAP is going to hit some newer people that have just been playing with their phones for sometime. This will give them something new to do. Those of our account holders that have switched over to the WAP platform like it a lot."
The wireless application runs on the standards-based platform created by Mobileum, Inc., a software infrastructure platform provider for wireless and mobile commerce applications and is interfaced with US Off-Track's Amtote Spectrum totalisator system.
The format was designed for ease of use by Mobile Gaming Solutions Limited (Dublin, Ireland) and the Mobileum human factors team. It was field tested extensively in the United States and Europe prior to launch.
"We are still testing new human resources interfaces in Ireland and the U.K.," Brennan said. "That process started over a year ago and continues to be ongoing."
Although US Off-Track is entering a new arena with WAP, and going where no one has gone yet in the U.S., their associates are veterans in the sector.
"Our partners that helped us develop this technology are an active service provider in the Asian market," he said.
Brennan is hoping the technology can be scaled in such away that a wide range of tracks can take advantage of it.
"We recognize a lot of the smaller tracks and some of the people who are seasonal, have the disadvantage of not being able afford services like this themselves," he said. "Our future plans are to make this type of technology accessible to all of the tracks."
To accomplish that goal, US Off-Track is banking on being the trendsetter for WAP protocol for the racing industry.
"One of our development strategies for creating this technology is actually creating a hosting technology that will allow tracks to come to US Off-Track and be provided with the services rather than having to reinvent the wheel," he said.