Sorry for the posting gap. But we're on vacation, and with the family in tow - each of our two adult "kids" - out in Southern California. We are staying in Carlsbad, about 15 miles or so north of Del Mar, where there's a racetrack, in case you didn't know. After a cloudy day on Saturday, when we arrived, the weather has steadily improved, and it was absolutely perfect on Monday for our hike down the mountain at Torrey Pines to the pristine beach there.
I was at the races on Sunday, but had some business to attend to, so only got a little gambling in, between that distraction and a technical problem which I'll get into below. We are sending the kids home on Wednesday night and hanging around for a few more days, so I definitely hope to get a day or two of some really serious horseplaying in!
Anyway, thanks to Bill Spencer, the Key Account Director at TVG, for his kind hospitality at Del Mar on Sunday; as well as to Luciana from their marketing department. Got to do some demos of the TimeformUS product....though no help to the technology available there. Was all excited to bring my brand new iPad there....but it didn't really work out so well. For one thing, it is apparently the case that all Apple devices are blocked from getting on to the wireless network at Del Mar. There is a network called DMRBETS that is available with a strong signal. But once I connected to it, got a page saying that the Apple website that I am connecting from is blocked. Huh? Asked some people at the Clubhouse Terrace restaurant where we were, and they knew about the issue but didn't have any helpful information. Eventually, I went on a quest. Found a customer service booth that sent me to another one who sent me to an information window at the tote machines on the first floor clubhouse.
There, I found a woman who knew all about it; she told me that this is a technical issue that is being "worked on." Though the people who are supposed to be working on it had the day off and were not there to impart any further wisdom or information. Hmmm.
However, none of this really would have mattered if I had selected AT&T or Verizon as my cellular carrier instead of Sprint. The latter was performing quite poorly, while the other two were fine. Yeah, I guess one could criticize me for making the least obvious choice of the three. But I've been using Sprint as my cellphone provide for many years without any problems, so I figured it was fine. And perhaps it is in most sections of the country. But not at Del Mar. It was quite fortunate that the people to whom I demo'd had tablets with Verizon or AT&T. Otherwise, that could have been quite embarrassing.
It also shows the hazard of being dependent on available technology at a racetrack. And perhaps why the biggest complaint/request we've been getting about the TimeformUS product is to make the printable version better. Currently, one can print out individual races, but we don't yet have the capability in place to print out an entire card, or portion of one, with a single click. Whatsmore, our format of stacking the race fractions underneath the running positions means a lot more paper required than the standard DRF or BRIS formats. Of course, the idea of our pp's is to eventually replace paper and pen....and the day will no doubt soon come when one can fold up a tablet and roll it up in one's back pocket like the Form. But that day is not yet here. And for that, and for other reasons I'm sure, it's clear that much of the horseplaying world is not quite ready for an on-track paperless handicapping experience. I've been coming to the track with tablet only for a few months now, and feel like an alien doing so, especially at Aqueduct!
With respect to Del Mar and their supposed "technical issue" with the wireless network....I know that we, as consumers, now demand wireless in most venues and situations. But I also understand that it presents somewhat of a conflict to racetracks which are struggling to keep handle on track, or on their ADW or ADW partners. If I'm at Saratoga, but using their wireless network to place wagers via TVG, then I'm draining handle from NYRA since it retains a far larger portion of bets placed either on track or through NYRA Rewards. It's like if people were sitting at Starbucks using their wireless network to order coffee from Common Grounds. So I can certainly understand the motivation for tracks to endeavor to limit access to competing sites even while offering wireless. Del Mar, if one is skeptical that this is really a technical issue, is taking that several steps further by blocking anyone and everyone with an iPad or iPhone.
Of course, there's only so much tracks can do given the availability of cellular access (especially with networks that actually work). And besides, in our land of free enterprise, it's surely fair to argue that the tracks simply need to compete like everyone else; optimize the betting experience for their customers both on track and online, offer competitive rebates, and market them effectively so that bettors will want to use them rather than be forced to do so.