Philadelphia Park is the newest horseracing track to join the ever-growing list of facilities that offer their betting services via the Internet.
Greenwood Racing, which owns the Pennsylvania racetrack, unveiled "Phonebet.com," a Web site for computerized betting last week. The site offers bettors the ability to stay connected with the live odds, watch or listen to the live race feed, and of course bet on their favorite ponies.
"We don't make predictions, but we are confident that it will be well received."
Philadelphia Park also operates six off-track betting facilities and a phone wagering operation. More than $100 million a year is brought in through the company's phone wagering services.
Greenwood also owns and operates the Racing Channel, a totalisator board site that is popular among pari-mutuel bettors.
Phonebet.com was deployed last week and was designed by a subsidiary of the company, Infotext.
Jim Gagliano, executive vice president and general manager of Philadelphia Park, sees the new site as part of the evolution in betting services.
"This is a natural extension of our phone wagering business," he said. "We are looking to grow that business with this site. We believe we offer the largest and most progressive phone betting system in the country."
In the short time the site has been operating, Gagliano said, the majority of bettors have warmed up to the new addition.
"The initial response has been very good," he said. "You usually don't hear positive feedback. We have gotten a lot of positive feedback on how efficient it is to make a wager compared to some other sites."
Gagliano said goals have been set for the site and he's confident that it will create a new revenue stream.
"Obviously, using the Web is a very efficient way of conducting our business," he said. "We don't make predictions, but we are confident that it will be well received. We are already a leader in account wagering in the United States and this is another step in maintaining that leadership role."
Through the system, bettors can lay down action at as many as 45 racetracks a day from all over the world. Pools open around noon EST and betting doesn't stop until 3 a.m. when races are over at tracks in the Southern Hemisphere and the Pacific Rim.
The Racing Channel will play a key role in developing Phonebet.com. Gagliano said the totalisator site appeals to the same audience that will make up the customer base for Phonebet.com.
"They can look at our site (via the Racing Channel) and see what kind of odds they can get at different tracks," he said. "They can get the latest changes and updates. We get over 10,000 hits a day, it is one of the most popular sites in racing and we are looking to use that group as the basis of our marketing. So we will be marketing to people who like to bet on horses"
Gagliano also said an aggressive marketing campaign is on the horizon. "We intend to spend about $100,000 in southeastern Pennsylvania and market the heck out of it," he said
Gagliano is hoping the new site will draw new bettors, but he also said it is designed to give current account holders another avenue for placing bets. The company will still employ its 1-800 number, where account holders can place their bet with an operator. A $1.50 service charge will now be incurred for those who use an operator. Greenwood implemented the service charge last year after it set up an automated process where bets could be placed by punching the keypad on their telephone. Customers can also place their bets by talking to a computer and not incur the $1.50 service charge.