As Santa Anita Park opens, smartphones take center stage with the horses


Santa Anita Park

Big races, big crowds, and big bets have been associated with Opening Day at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA, for decades. Traditionally opening the day after Christmas, the biggest names in horse racing converge to start the new season. This year, there’s a bit more attention falling on the track from two different industries: entertainment and technology.

From the entertainment front, the upcoming HBO series “Luck” starring Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte will bring in patrons eager to see where the series, debuting in January, is being shot. Here’s the trailer for season 1:

More importantly, Opening Day brings a tech angle that is drawing attention from both racing fans and leaders from other industries who are interested in seeing how well their new mobile betting platform is going to work. Betting restrictions have always made online horse race wagering impractical. Santa Anita Park has localized their mobile betting platform to allow only those using the park’s WiFi connection to place wagers.

Localizing mobile engagement has been a hot topic for the past couple of years as retail stores and other businesses have attempted to take advantage of the growing use of smartphones and tablets. People are carrying their computers in their pockets now, so it has become important to keep them focused with reasons to use them in a positive way rather than comparison shopping or other activities that can take them away from the store.

Santa Anita Park’s system is designed to make lines shorter, wagering easier, and increase the overall simplicity of the betting process. Rather than leaving the grandstands and waiting in line, the mobile site allows those connected via WiFi to research races and place wagers from their seats.

Other industries are watching closely to see what comes of it. The ability to use mobile access to keep onsite visitors engaged with a retail store or entertainment venue is the “golden challis” that has eluded most. If Santa Anita can get enough of their patrons onto their WiFi rather than 3G or 4G connections, the possibilities are endless.

“This is the direction we need to be going,” said Santa Anita Vice President of Sales and Marketing Chris Quinn. “Technology is making our sport much more accessible and this mobile wagering platform is going to provide our on-track fans with a level of convenience that we haven’t been able to offer before. This is an exciting time and we feel these types of technologies hold great promise for the growth of our sport and the enhancement of our on-track experience.”

With less than 2 days before the start of the 75th winter season at Santa Anita, get to the park early and bring your smartphones.

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