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Horse Racing Simulcast Panel: Transform On-Site Racing Experience

By Tom LaMarra

Upgrading the on-site customer experience, be it for live horse racing or full-card simulcasts, is critical to the growth of the business, panelists said Oct. 7 on the first day of the International Simulcast Conference in Lexington.


The discussion was a refreshing change for the conference, which by nature has focused on simulcast-related issues in its 20-plus years. But Chris Scherf, executive vice president of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, noted the largest share of pari-mutuel handle still comes from bricks-and-mortar facilities such as racetracks and off-track betting parlors.


Scherf showed a video of an interview with an NFL official who explained how the league wants to use technology to create at-home amenities in stadiums. The object is to create social experiences at games–and still get revenue from ticket, concession, and merchandise sales.


Todd Gralla and Brian Mirakian of Populous, a design firm that develops and re-develops sporting venues to maximize space and increase customer value, showed various examples of how some high-end facilities have been recreated to attract people. They said for horse racing, it comes down to upgrading facilities to the standards expected by attendees and recognizing that people want to congregate and socialize.


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