New Jersey moved first. Again.

Continuing a trend that has seen the Garden State lead the way forward on sports betting and evolving the nation’s wagering landscape, Tuesday’s announcement was a potential positive volley in that evolution as Monmouth Park and their operator, Darby Development LLC, entered a 10-year exclusive agreement with The BetMakers to manage and distribute a fixed odds signal. This is the first such deal in North America for North American customers.

While not often realized, the majority of North American tracks have been cutting deals for years with legal, overseas bookmakers, offering fixed odds bets on North American races to overseas customers. This is the first time a fixed odds deal will be struck within a U.S. state with the potential to distribute interstate fixed-odds betting to customers in jurisdictions where such wagers are permitted.

Should the current sports betting bill up for consideration in Kentucky (H.B. 137) be passed, residents there could participate in fixed odds betting on races at Monmouth, pending various approvals. The opposite is true of Indiana, whose sports betting bill asserts that horse racing is limited to pari-mutuel wagering only.

The remarks of Darby CEO Dennis Drazin appeared in Bill Finley’s Wednesday story from the TDN. In it, Drazin highlights the value of getting ahead of the curve and offering customers a familiar product with lots of opportunity for growth.

“I am sure there will be people saying we are taking a shot in the dark by doing this because no one knows the math yet…”

“But somebody had to be first. You can’t just sit still and do nothing...”

“When I speak to our consumers, bettors tell me they are tired of having a horse go into starting gate at one price and, a furlong into the race, the price is half what it was when they left the gate,” he said.

“People will get a fairer shake this way.”

“In the early part, this will probably be smaller than what you will see five or 10 years from now,” he said. “It might be like what we have seen with exchange wagering, that there will be a learning curve before people switch over. Probably a lot of people will just still use the pari-mutuel system. But this should appeal to a younger demographic. They will be more interested in this and so will bettors who really understand the value of their wagers and feel they can get a better shake with fixed-odds betting.”

The connection to data is obvious.

Just as a fixed odds product appeals to bettors accustomed to betting at an exact price, the availability of racing information to facilitate informed decision-making by bettors will be an absolute necessity.

North American racing needs more competitive pricing, greater transparency and clearer administration of rules, enhanced product development to meet the wagering interests of customers and more affordable information in modern formats.

New Jersey is taking a first step, as espoused by the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation in its February 2019 white paper, “Horse Racing and ‘Legal’ Sports Betting.” More states need to follow.