Sunday April 21, 2013 : BRITISH RACING EXECS IN TALKS ABOUT BETTER WI-FI AT TRACKS
 
Traditional racecourse bookies are unlikely to be pleased with this move
 
Traditional racecourse bookies, with their colourful language and hand signals, are very much a part of the racing experience, but modern technology may soon be presenting new challenges to their businesses, reports the publication This Is Money.
 
The Jockey Club, which owns around 15 of UK's top racecourses, is reportedly in talks with media partner Racecourse Media Group with a view to increasing the Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G networks at its race venues.  This would widen accessibility via smart phones and tablets in particular, opening the way to a broader and perhaps more convenient way of wagering for the punters.
 
Gambling company results in recent times have repeatedly illustrated the popularity of mobile and in-play betting on sports events, with usage soaring among a new tech-savvy generation of punters…and that is not necessarily good news for the old-style racecourse bet takers.
 
This Is Money reports that racecourses are notorious for poor phone reception due to the size of the grounds and the number of people at any event causing data traffic jams.
 
Richard FitzGerald, chief executive of Racecourse Media Group, which represents the media interests of 33 UK racecourses, worth GBP 46million last year, told This Is Money: "Racecourses are considering the technical complexities of wi-fi access and developing business plans around the substantial investment required."
 
A spokesman for The Jockey Club emphasised that the company was considering the position of on-course bookies in its thinking because they were "…an absolutely vital part of the theatre of race day."
 
A spokesman for the bookies, Rob Grossmith of the Rails Bookmakers Association, was less than enthusiastic on the idea, saying: "It will be worse for us if connectivity gets better. If it was up to me I’d pull the plug on the whole thing.
 
"We’re all competing for the punters’ pound and it’s getting easier for people to just tap their phones and bet rather than betting with the racecourse bookmakers, particularly if it’s raining or they’ve run out of cash."