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Monday, December 9, 2013

What's is Six Seconds? is reporting that some people are speculating on social media that those late bets which killed the exacta at Yonkers Raceway on November 29 may have been a result of certain tracks receiving 'C-Band' feeds versus satellite delayed signals.  I can't comment on the accuracy of which tracks may be receiving live feeds versus which ones don't, but if you are someone literally wagering at the very end, being at a track which receives a C-Band feed could be a big advantage.

Apparently much of this discussion is likely generated from an old article in the Blood Horse where Roberts Communications was working on sending their signal through Dish Network.  According to the article, using decoders and the C-Band led to a three second delay while the new method was resulting up to a nine second delay.  Up to now, I have not been able to ascertain whether or not this delay is still as lengthy as it was back then.

Let me state up front, if still used, the existence of a C-Band is perfectly legal as were the gamblers wagering off of it.  All they are doing is trying to get an advantage over fellow bettors which let's face it, most of us would avail ourselves of if we could.

According to some people, the difference would be roughly six seconds; meaning while wagering would end at exactly the same time, someone betting off a C-Band feed would in effect get six seconds more of video to base a decision on.  How big is seven seconds?  I decided to do an experiment.

I went back and used a race at the old Roosevelt Raceway before the days of wide-spread simulcasting, primarily to avoid insinuating any specific track's signal is being sent on this so-called C-band.  It should be noted for this is an academic discussion, not a confirmation this is what happened in the Yonkers case.  It is important to note regardless, those betting on the races live at the track their are being contested at in effect have the same benefit as those alleged C-Band transmissions.

First, let's look at two photos showing where the windows would have closed.

 This picture shows the approximate position of the field when the windows close at simulcast locations or ADWs that use the satellite feed of the exported race.

This picture shows where the field would be when the windows close on-track and at simulcast locations if the alleged C-Band signal was received.

So the question to be asked is what would be the advantage to a horseplayer with access to the presumed C-Band signal.  Does it really matter that much? 

Let's take a look.  The following video shows the race corresponding to the above pictures for a period of approximately six seconds, starting with the point the windows would close at a 'normal' simulcast location and ends about when the windows would close on track and at any location which may get this special feed (I had assistance with this).  I can't emphasize enough that wagering would end at the same clock time, not at the same point in the video.

Again, I made sure I took a race where nothing happened such as a horse going off stride or anyone showing they were leaving, specifically trying to be as neutral as possible.  But it is clear with modern advancements in gambling being able to see these six seconds is significant, especially in these days of smart phone wagering and personal wagering devices at the track?  Just think, if you were holding off till the last possible moment to make a wager on a horse named Horance and he jumped off during those six seconds, how much money you would save?  What other advantages could there be?

A Potential Problem with Exchange Wagering?
So if this C-Band does exist, what could this mean for exchange wagering?  Before I go further, I can't speak if the following is true in Europe where exchange wagering is already in play.  For all I know, there may be regulations regarding how a simulcast signal may be disseminated eliminating these issues.

Exchange wagering, being touted by some as a panacea for what is ailing racing could have fundamental problems if the C-Band exists and is available to some and not to others.  You may be home ready to make a wager in the market and the person offering odds on a horse may be looking six seconds ahead of you; offering odds on a horse that has already gone off-stride.  What about in-running wagering when you are betting on the race as it is being contested?  Would you want to be betting against someone who has a view of the future, albeit six seconds?

If the elusive C-Band exists, the only way people could be betting against each other on an even level would be if the markets were closed at a designated time (say the posted post time) and in-running wagering was not permitted unless safeguards were implemented.

Of course, in-running wagering is one of the biggest pluses for the wager and it provides the volume which would allow racetracks and horsemen to get the commissions they need since the rate would be less than traditional wagering.  Such safeguards could be allowing exchange wagering only on races contested where both C-Band and traditional satellite signals are not disseminated; racing commissions banning the dissemination of a C-Band signal; companies offering exchange wagering employ geo-fencing technology to ensure those who potentially have access to C-Band signals are blocked from participating. 

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