The Massachusetts State Lottery is betting that restaurant and bar patrons will try their luck at "virtual horse racing," a Keno-style game played on video monitors.
Each animated race will last about a minute and feature 12 numbered horses circling the track as a fast-talking announcer describes the action. Details are still being worked out, but lottery officials are planning to stage races every 15 minutes, with a minimum bet of $2. Players could bet much as they would at the racetrack, with win, place, show, exacta and trifecta wagering.
Officials hope to debut the Daily Race Game/Run for the Money in November or December and they expect it to eventually bring in $150 million in annual revenue, Joseph Sullivan, the lottery's executive director, said Tuesday.
The game will in many ways resemble Keno, an online game played every four minutes via video monitors in bars and restaurants, with a $1 minimum bet.
"This is not Keno-plus," Sullivan said. "We're not looking to create competition between the two games, but to enhance the two."
The state's Keno sales have recently dipped, despite an overall lottery revenue growth the past fiscal year to $4.38 billion - $736 million was distributed to Massachusetts cities and towns; $176 million to the state.
A spokeswoman for New York City-based Scientific Games Corp., which won a $3.5 million, three-year state contract to provide software to run the new game, said Massachusetts is expected to become the first state lottery to offer virtual horse racing. The spokeswoman, Lisa Lettieri, said a rival cmopany, GTech Corp., recently sold software for a virtual auto racing game to Rhode Island's lottery.
Massachusetts' addition of the horse racing game is in line with a recent industry trend toward high-tech games featuring high-definition video, Sullivan said.
He expects the game to be widely available in the state's Keno-licensed bars and restaurants, as well as horse and dog tracks.
Sullivan does not expect the game will draw fans away from live horse racing or simulcast races - an expectation echoed by Joseph Betro, chairman of the State Racing Commission, which regulates thoroughbred racing at Suffolk Downs, harness racing at Plainridge Racecourse and greyhound racing at Wonderland Park and Raynham/Taunton.
"It might well attract greater interest in horse racing in Massachusetts," Betro said.