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'Horseplayers' Hellmers talks about exchange wagering at Monmouth Park: Part IV

'Horseplayers' star Christian Hellmers gives his take on exchange wagering at Monmouth Park
'Horseplayers' star Christian Hellmers gives his take on exchange wagering at Monmouth Park
Courtesy of Christian Hellmers

betting. They’ve got the platform. They’ve got the technology to handle anything. They’ve got the security; the transparency.

It’s the most brilliant experience. You’ll see the commentators say, “Well, let’s go to the exchanges to see what the people are betting there.” They’ll compare it to the parimutuel so there’s this constant conversation going on. The exchanges are seen a little bit more as “smart money” to some degree because it takes a more sophisticated person to pick a price rather than just say, “I’m gonna bet on the number two horse because I like him.” There’s that whole intellectual side of the game which I love because there is a market for that side of racing and hopefully exchange wagering will increase the appetite for intellectual discussions that go beyond which jockey and trainer are involved. It’s huge. You’ll see Betfair advertising everywhere. They allow every single race to be bet in running and you’ll see the odds and the market move like crazy depending on whether the horse is backing up or moving forward. So again, being present at the track and having a live televised feed is important for the player.

Marcya: Will Monmouth Park horse players need a smart phone to participate or will they be able to do it another way? And what is the learning curve for this new technology?

Christian: It does require a computer or a smart phone. I wouldn’t be surprised if Monmouth Park had their own user interface so it will require that the user knows how to work a machine. There will be a learning curve so that is why television and TVG will be so important. The responsibility will be on them to educate their New Jersey residents on how to use this through demos and all that to make sure people understand it. So it’s exciting because people are really going to have to think about how they are betting.

Marcya: It sounds as though it would not only be a great thing for Monmouth Park but a huge lift for the entire horse racing industry.

Christian: There is no doubt that everyone is going to win. It will also be interesting because the system will get challenged. A wise guy or a jockey is going to try to play a game. And the good thing is that in this modern age of video we are going to see the entire race. As you are probably aware, in Hong Kong they suspend riders that don’t ride hard in the end. It is all caught on tape and they review it.

So I think you are going to see a lot more responsibility put on the stewards to make sure they look at every jockey, look at every trainer and the proper diligence on the betting. Because if you see a horse that should be even money be offered up at 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 to 1, and there is a lot of money behind it, you are going to know that something is going on. Of course, the sharper players will appproach with caution but the average fan may not realize it so there is going to need to be some scrutiny done.

The great thing is that Betfair can track everything so we can all enjoy, in the spirit of racing, attempting to win these races. That is something racing is going to have to look in the eye and say “How clean has this game been for the last 20, 30, 40 years?” It’s probably going to take a few years but I am sure somebody will challenge it and somebody will be made an example of. That is what happened in the UK. One of the top riders I think was under investigation and it was a big story. From that moment on you didn’t see many other stories.

Marcya: What do you think this will do for Monmouth Park specifically?

Christian: I think that Monmouth Park is going to become a leader in the game. By making this statement they are showing that they are putting the customer first and no racetrack has ever done that. That makes me personally want to support them as taking a big stride like this.

That’s powerful for not only the existing players for the future players. Monmouth Park is demonstrating that they are here to take risks like many of the bettors do with their money so I like that Monmouth Park has a vision and is showing leadership in an industry where there is so much competition. There aren’t many groups that are willing to take chances because everybody is happy with what they’ve got.

The horsemen deserve equal credit. This is a monumental move for racing. This is probably going to go down in history as one of the best decisions of all time. It’s a shame that it has taken this long but it’s not surprising because of all the parties involved. But it is going to force the hand of other racetracks and that is what I love about it. So if you don’t have an exchange on the racing in your state then you are going to be missing out.

Of course, New Jersey will have to be patient because this is a five-year plan. It’s going to take time to recruit the bigger bettors to come in, to gradually grow the pools, and to get people comfortable with the interface and the style of betting this way. And Monmouth is only available certain times of the year so it’s going to take a while so people are going to get thirsty for this. And you are going to be able to grow revenue because between the betting on the field against a horse and between the betting in the middle of the race that should be an uptick of a minimum of ten to twenty percent if you look at it over the course of a year or two. There’s a lot of investment that must go upfront to see it become fruitful.

Marcya: Let’s jump to the new reality show Horseplayers on Esquire Network. Could you give me a bit of a sneak peek of what we could expect?

Christian: Well, it’s on Esquire Network which is a new network that was launched in September. They’ve got a variety of reality shows. Ours is one of the sexiest. I say that because I tend to be a little bit more “rock star” with my lifestyle. But there’s a lot of buzz about it.

There are eight different players. You kind of dive into


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