The next generation of handicappers is not likely to hone its skills
the old-fashioned way - at the racetrack - but will instead learn the
intricacies of the game from a crop of new interactive and educational
websites and Internet programs, officials of the sites said on Tuesday
during a panel on the opening day of the University of Arizona Symposium
on Racing and Gaming.
The websites, which include Horseplayernow.com and
Horseracingnation.com, have been launched in the last several years to
mimic fan sites for other sports and hobbies, and they offer wide arrays
of interactive options for Internet users. In large part, the sites
intend to re-create the racetrack experience, in which fans share
opinions about betting and horses freely, but with two critical
distinctions -- they don't typically offer live betting, and the
interaction is faceless, well away from a live track.
The Tuesday afternoon panel, called "Reaching and Teaching the
Horseplayers of Tomorrow," was the most popular session on the Tuesday
schedule of the symposium, largely because it addressed a critical issue
facing racing. Over the past several years, handle on U.S. horse races
has contracted 25 percent, with wagering this year on track to register
the lowest total since 1995, and the industry is struggling to develop
fans who are willing to risk their cash on a sport that is hovering on
the precipice of irrelevance in a highly competitive market.