Fancy trying no cash betting?

ZNAP tablet - the future of betting?

ZNAP tablet - the future of betting?

Ever forgotten to go to the cash point before you went to the races? Failed to get your bet on because you were looking for the best odds along the line of bookies and then had to queue as they came under starters orders? The future where these problems are quickly overcome may not be far away.

Chester racecourse is gaining something of a reputation for forward thinking and new ideas. Last year it did away with the Tote and introduced its own similar service, chesterBET. We’ve discussed the issues punters have found with that before, so we won’t go over old ground.

The latest innovation the course has tried out is a cashless bar, in which, I’m sorry to say, they were not giving out free drinks. What they did was to provide some invited guests to try out a mobile phone app to order and pay for food and drink. In all, 640 orders were processed using the app, which met with wide approval from staff and customers alike.

The event saw the worldwide launch of the ZNAP™ app, developed by a MPayMe. The invited folk from the business, media and celebrity worlds used the app to scan a QR-code on a welcome sign at the entrance, giving them access to view the QR-BAR drinks menu. To place orders, guests simply selected choices from the menu and added them to the virtual shopping cart in the app. They proceeded to check-out and entered their table number so that drinks could be delivered quickly to their table, which removed the need for queuing.

It’s this last aspect that has given the racecourse pause for thought as to whether the app could be used for betting. Emma Blackmore, Head of Commercial at Chester Racecourse said, “We are always looking to innovate and enhance the customer experience. We didn’t look at using this for betting initially, but throughout the day on Saturday it was clear there was an appetite from the customers to be able to use the technology for betting as well. It would be something we would look at but there would be more issues to examine there, as we sometimes have to give out refunds.”

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And winnings as well!

The legal side of the cashless approach was cleared some tine ago, as Tony May, Head of Gaming at Chester explained. “We got permission from the Gambling Commission earlier in the year to be able to use tablets in our hospitality in a very similar way, which you load up prior to betting. The money has to come off a debit card, not a credit card. The tablets are our own, linked only to chesterBET.”

At the moment, people who have won after placing a bet through the tablets, are still paid out in cash, but it can only be a matter of time before returns can be paid direct into the account that has deposited money on the tablet.

I felt that racing lost something of its unique atmosphere when bookmakers went all electric and started issuing us with bus tickets instead of their own tokens. There’s always a bit of a buzz standing in the queue to pick up your winnings after a race, and that would be lost if they simply went back into an account.

Would that matter to you? Do you think it might lead people to gamble more than they intended to on a day at the races?

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1 reply
  1. Debs says:

    So the invited guests liked it, did they? I bet they did!! I daresay this only means that Richard Thomas, Chester’s Chief Executive, simply selected a few of his favourite ‘Celebrity’ friends for the ‘trial’ and then probably forgot to send them the bill as well, so of course they liked it….I am sure the ordinary race-goer wouldn’t have found it so great. It reminds me of the re-vamping of Ascot. The gentlemen of the Press were invited along for the ‘trial meeting’ a couple of months before Royal Ascot, where they were plied with free food and copious free drinks and were loud in their praise for the improvements; the only problem was that through their wine-y haze, they failed to notice that the new viewing was so bad that the ordinary mortal couldn’t see a thing…………

    Well, having got that moan off my chest, I’ll turn to what really matters to me as a punter: The Betting. I am probably a dinosaur, but the whole idea of providing ChesterBet with an audit trail of my betting activities leaves me cold….

    If Chester wants to be innovative, instead of mucking about with Tablets, why don’t they re-jig ChesterBet and provide us beleaguered punters with place-only betting and, while they are at it, why don’t they drop the idea of ‘starting price less 10%’ and start providing us with value, not gimmicks? In its present form, ChesterBet provides NOTHING for the punter that the bookies don’t do better. The ChesterBet ‘rallying cry’ of ‘Service and Convenience’? Don’t make me laugh… It’s a very short walk from the Paddock to the Betting Ring and I’ve never found it ‘inconvenient’ to make my way there and find a member of the bookmaking fraternity willing to take my money, and do so quickly and accurately, and then [hopefully!!!] pay out quickly and accurately, which, in my humble opinion, is all that the punter wants …..

    I haven’t renewed my membership at Chester this year for the sole reason that I dislike ChesterBet. Whilst at many courses I prefer trotting along to the betting ring, at Chester one really did need the Tote; it was a vital alternative. The very small Roodee course and the
    importance of the draw especially in sprints meant that the ‘place only’ option of the Tote provided some opportunity for the punter to find value: an excellent horse draw badly in a 5f or 6f race would almost always finish way behind a not-so-spectacular horse drawn in stall 1.. with ChesterBet simply replicating what the bookies provided – but at very much worse odds, of course, the win-only part of an each way bet was always going to be totally wasted…

    Whilst the argument that the sale of the Tote meant that the profits no longer went back to racing, I think that that there is a distinct ‘conflict of interest’ with ChesterBet – the more money they can get off the punters, the more money there is for Chester….there’s therefore no incentive for them to offer punters value for money, because to do so would mean that there is less money headed for their own coffers… And where is it all going to lead? If they can start to monitor punters’ bets made via tablet, what next…..,an individually concocted set of odds for punters calculated on the information they’ve gleaned about your betting activities, thereby reducing still further your chance of a decent return on a day’s racing…..?

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