A Personalized Betting App Would Be Helpful, But It'll Never Happen

I read with interest this morning, a Mashable piece on the new Golf Digest App, available at the App store for $19.99 per year.

What the app does is amazingly interesting (watch the short video below, it's neat). It allows the user to input his or her own statistics for courses (from a partnership with another company) and analyzes them against others. Then it does more than that. It finds out what your strengths and weaknesses are, and tailors content from the magazine for you, so you can better the game. The idea and work was spawned from the experiences of a golfer who happens to be a professor of statistics at Columbia University.

The advantages of an app like this are there, and there is value. It also helps a publisher - publishing revenue has dropped more than racing has - gain some much needed traction for their content.

If we flip it over to horse racing, the same principles apply. You'll often hear (I have written it here many times) that you need to know your strength and weaknesses as a player. You need to know your stats; what you're good at and what you're not so good at. You need to know your ROI on sloppy tracks, at Mohawk, at Arlington, on turf, in MSW, in stakes, in trots and in paces. And so on.

What if that was done in an app linked to your ADW? You'd see everything and get handicapping instruction on changing ticket structure, avoiding bets and tracks, and it reminds you right on your phone or tablet throughout the racing day.

In addition, with tailored stats and content in an easy-to-use app via PP data, it can be built for you. If you like to look at stats on a horse at a glance, but don't want to look at the hundreds of data points in a past performance, an app can help. If I am at  Woodbine and a race from Saratoga pops on, I might want to see a trainer stat, a track bias stat and speed figs and form figs for all horses in that race. I can look at it for two minutes and come up with a play; a play which might be much better than buying a form, or opening up one to a race I have to look at quickly.

I often handicap like this with Jcapper - which shows me at a glance numbers that I know are working at the venue - where I can play a half dozen tracks at once, fairly easily.

The possibilities in a data driven game like ours are endless.

The problems with that are obvious.
  • I remember being at a wagering conference a few years ago and I was speaking to someone who shall remain nameless. He said that many big ADW's do not offer ROI based numbers because they're worried that people will see how badly they are doing and will quit racing. Hey, I suck at everything with 22% takeouts! That likely makes it a non-starter, for at least some ADW's, mostly of the track-owned variety.
  • Golf Digest can do it because there are a gazillion golfers. There are much fewer horseplayers, so the power of numbers and economies of scale don't make the investment overly wise.
  • An umbrella organization might be able to invest in the technology for this, and that would be welcomed, but we have dozens of ADW's, so standardizing it for use is almost impossible. Note that Golf Digest worked with Golflogix in partnership. Is TVG and Twinspires going to work together? I don't know, ask the Quarter Hog.
  • PP's and betting stats are not easy to come by. This is not the NFL, PGA Tour or any other sport which wants you to see and use statistics. This is a fiefdom that has revenue coming in. Good luck if developers want to do something with PP data. They'd probably find themselves in court.
As with most things in racing, it seems an idea that can be run industry wide - either for marketing or to make players' lives a little easier - cannot get off the ground, because racing - unlike almost all other sports or games - is not built as an industry to do these types of things.

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