New betting system set to take off - Monday 24th of October 2005

A betting system which was rejected by the New Zealand racing industry seven years ago, is about to take off, on the other side of the world.

Members of Britains wealthy racing aristocracy have bought into the race-o concept, and theyve signed up a small Auckland software company to develop technology thats capable of handling multi-million dollar jackpots.

Picking one winner is hard enough, let alone selecting eight winners in a day.

But thats what race-o is all about - a lotto style super bet that promises multi-million dollar payouts.

New Zealands racing industry rejected the idea, but a whos who of British racing are now backing it, including the Duchess of Bedford, the Rothschild family and even the queens blood stock advisor.

"They bring serious money and serious investment. They also actually bring a serious amount of expertise and knowledge about the industry," says Tim Thodey, chief executive of Olympic Software.

Thodey heads Olympic Software which overcame international competition for the contract to develop a sophisticated betting engine that can process up to 20 million bets in little more than a minute.

The system uses microsoft technology, and theres praise for the kiwi ingenuity involved.

"They can use these tools and they can build world class products that provide export income for New Zealand, and I think thats really exciting," says Ross Peat, Managing Director of Microsoft NZ.

"Its a true expression of our version of the knowledge economy.

"It shows that a small New Zealand company of 70 odd people can actually compete for business internationally, not only compete, but also deliver a really world class solution," Peat says.

Race-o represents a major threat to traditional betting agencies like New Zealands TAB and Britains Tote. And because race-o doesnt have official support, the computer handling its bets is based on an Indian reservation in Canada.

Based in Montreal, the Kahnawake Mohawk tribe has set its reservation up as an independent sovereign territory and hosts numerous internet gambling sites.

"We actually support that application from new Zealand, although its hosted in Canada, for an English customer," Thodey says.

Race-o launches in Britain next week, and aims to revitalise racing by injecting much-needed money back into the industry.

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