Maryland OKs at-Home Betting Test

From Associated Press

The Maryland Racing Commission approved Wednesday the testing of a system that will allow people to place bets from their homes--a move officials hope will increase interest in horse racing and boost track revenues.

“The group we’re responding to is the under-30 crowd,” said Mark Brenner, president of On Demand Services, a Tulsa, Okla.-based communications company developing the system.

The system, which will be installed in 25 homes in suburban Baltimore next month, is similar to pay-per-view television, Brenner said.


It works by hooking a cable box to a television set with one cable going into the television and another entering the telephone line. When a person wants to make a bet, he can slide a credit card in the box and then punch in a PIN number.

A menu is displayed on the television screen offering options such as “Today’s Racetracks,” “Account Information” or “Help.” A flip of the channel gives a person a list of all races, a description of the weather conditions on the tracks and information on each race’s handicap.

The person uses the remote to choose a race, horse and wager. Money is deducted from an account that is established when the system is hooked up. Once the bet has been placed, the person can flip a channel and watch the race.

A bettor will be able to place bets on up to 100 races at racetracks across the nation, Brenner said. The minimum bet will be $1. There is no maximum amount.

Start-up costs for the system in Maryland will be between $250,000 and $500,000, Brenner said. ODS will pay for most of the expenses.

During the program’s initial phase, the 25 testers will use play money and will only be able to bet, not watch video feed of the races.


Eventually video feed and channels will be added so viewers can bet on races at tracks in Pennsylvania, Florida, California, Kentucky, Nevada and New York, Brenner said.