ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) - A horse racing fan is sitting in Hoosier Park's Homestretch Steakhouse, enjoying dinner and conversation with friends when it's time to bet on the next race.
The fan jumps up, heads to a teller or self-service terminal and waits in line to place that bet, missing out on some of the social aspect of the Hoosier Park Racing & Casino experience.
"(Now) guests can place wagers while spending time together with no interruptions," Gene Ciscell, director of information technology, told The Herald Bulletin (http://bit.ly/TWK1SZ).
Hoosier Park is the first racino in Indiana to offer a new, convenient way to place wagers with the FastBet Mobile wagering system, Ciscell said.
The company decided to try FastBet after a Churchill Downs survey indicated that horse racing bets were down because guests were tired of standing in long lines, he said.
With FastBet, guests no longer have to do so. They can wager from anywhere in the building and bet closer to closing time, he said.
The service is free and can only be accessed through Hoosier Park's secure wireless network on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers, said Grant Scharton, director of public relations.
He said Hoosier Park is aiming to attract new fans, including a younger betting demographic, with new technology that will make wagering easier and faster.
"It demystifies horse racing and puts it in the palm of your hand," he said. "It gives you a feel for the sport."
For those new to the world of horse racing, Scharton said going to a teller to make wages can seem intimidating.
With the new service, Ciscell said a novice can play around to learn the process without actually placing a bet.
The program is in its pilot stage and was launched in Anderson earlier this week.
The Indiana Horse Racing Commission gave permission to extend the program from Hoosier Park's Winner's Circle Pub, Grille and OTB in Indianapolis â€" that began in mid-June â€" to Anderson. Only a handful of racinos in the country are using it, Scharton added.
Samantha Koch, Winner's Circle Executive Host, said she's seen guests sit with friends and take turns betting on tablets.
With the new service, there's no losing vouchers or leaving them in machines.
"It's all very secure and a lot of fun," she said.
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