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Vicky Nolan

Interactive Race Wagering Thrives in France

10 May 2000

A new interactive horseracing service available on French digital satellite company CanalSatellite's Equidia began operation three weeks ago, and 12,000 betting accounts have already been opened. The service is available to all 1.4 million CanalSatellite subscribers, while betting services are handled by the PMU, one of the largest pari-mutuel operators in the world.

In addition to the 12,000 Equidia interactive wagering account holders, there are 100,000 telephone-wagering accounts. Plus, Equidia is simulcast to betting shops and racetracks, which, when combined with the home subscribers, allows more than 10 million people in France to access the channel's racing content.

Unlike its North American counterparts that focus only on horseracing information, such as Youbet and TVG, Equidia has taken a slightly different approach to its programming, offering information on all facets of horses and horseracing. Horseracing, of course, is Equidia's mainstay with 80 percent of programming devoted to it. Races are broadcast every afternoon and two nights a week. The other twenty-percent of programming includes horse sales, documentaries, games, movies and even horse-related cartoons.

Punters can bet either by telephone or through their television after opening an account (a process that only takes a minute's time, Esclatine said.) The first deposit can be as low as US$15, but subsequently punters must maintain a US$1,000 balance. Winnings can be credited to the player's account or paid out by check.

Racing content via Equidia International is distributed to 40 countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, while international wagering is conducted through local totalisators. Content on Equidia International is primarily in German and English.

The French Equidia channel covers 260 French Thoroughbred and harness racing tracks. That adds up to 4,500 races a year shown on Equidia. Future plans include partnerships with U.S. interactive horseracing service TVG as well as interactive wagering hardware developer Autotote. links with Autotote,. Equidia will also be available on rival French satellite service TPS, which should start in September.

Equida General Manager Claude Esclatine estimates there are 7 million bettors in France. To reach those bettors, the service targets three major markets: women, urban residents and young viewers aged 20-25.

The PMU, as well as all other totalisators, is regulated by the French Department of Agriculture and the Treasury.

During 1998, 6 million punters placed more than US$4.77 billion in bets with the PMU. More than US$3.2 billion was paid in winnings. PMU executives expect the new service to bring in an additional US$450 million.

Interactive Race Wagering Thrives in France is republished from
Vicky Nolan
Vicky Nolan