The tierce, or trifecta, made its debut in Korean horse racing wagering this past weekend and this new bet type, the seventh to become available on all races in the country, made an immediate impact, despite the pool initially only being accessible through the KRA’s mobile betting application.
By Sunday’s final race at Seoul, the Tierce was accounting for 4.3% of the total turnover, higher than Win, Place and Quinella Place pools. The Quinella remains the most popular pool with the Trio (first three in any order) a close second, followed by the Exacta. Overall turnover remained similar to the previous week. The fact that the Tierce will, for the time being, not be available to cash bettors, looks set to provide a major shot in the arm to mobile betting.
Mobile betting has had a predictably shaky start. Despite the name conjuring up images of people having a bet from home on their smartphones, like in a normal jurisdiction, this isn’t the case. Since the regulator ordered the closure of the “KNetz” telephone betting service in 2009 (essentially handing the monopoly in off-course betting to illegal operators), the Authority is only permitted to accept bets on course or at its OTBs. The App therefore can only be used when the device on which it is installed is connected to the”LetsRun Free” Wi-fi connection.
Despite heavy investment in what is a very impressive and user-friendly app (there will be a foreign language version) packed with information, as well as an excellent new lounge at Seoul especially for mobile betting, take-up has not been high and mobile turnover had been declining slightly since its launch. Since April, at least one simulcast race from Jeju Island on Fridays and Saturdays has been designated “mobile only” with no cash bets accepted, however, most punters have looked on those races as opportunities to take lunch or a coffee break.
It’s understandable that punters have resisted. With the regulator wanting all bets to be tracked and to eventually be linked to a bank account with a real name, in a country where gambling – despite being hugely popular – carries a major social stigma, it is seen by many as an unwelcome intrusion into privacy. It also prevents any circumventing of the rules on the maximum betting limit (which can easily be done simply by visiting more than one betting window or terminal before the race), something that is a challenge for both punters and no doubt the Authority alike.
However, the Tierce and its high dividends compared to Stake, is always going to be an attractive bet and it’s a pool that punters will want to play into. Eventually it will be expanded to cash betting too, most likely towards the end of this year. For now though, the signs are that it could be the game-changer that mobile betting has been seeking.