Innovative Australian software developer Media & Gaming proved the viability of its Typhoon software by gaining its first international client last week.

In the process it put on notice totalisator operators world-wide that they need to pay attention to their creaking and primitive technology platforms if they are to compete in the 21st century.

The New Zealand Racing Board intends replacing archaic systems dating back to 1982 with the state of the art Typhoon technology, developed over the past 3 years by father and son team Arnold and Greg Kopff for Media & Gaming.

While the deal represents a multi-million dollar income stream for Media & Gaming, its importance to the New Zealand Racing Board cannot be doubted.

Most totalisator operators worldwide have handled the transition to internet wagering very poorly. Early attempts simulated the activities of telephone operators keying bets called to them over the phone, taking little advantage of the benefits that internet operation provided.

Even now, few totalisator operations around the world could operate on a 24/7 basis. They all need to shut down overnight while the day's transactions are digested, analysed, reconciled and backed up, while then setting up for a new day's operations.

New bet types take forever to incorporate. Look at the 12 month or more delay between TabCorp announcing its Big 6 product and its implementation.

With the Typhoon system, many of these facilities are built in, meaning that a totalisator operator can focus on building sales with innovative new products and providing superb customer support, rather than supporting legacy systems.

Another aspect of the Typhoon system is that it seamlessly integrates over the counter sales with internet wagering using both computer and mobile phone client originated transactions.

Typhoon's proprietary Typhoon Syndication Protocol (TSP) allows each sales mode to be managed by its own system, with the bets sold pooled to provide real time dividend information to all participating platforms.

TSP provides not only for the customary time based dividend updates (15 minutes down to 15 seconds shortly before the jump) but also for event triggers. Such an event might be when a particular trifecta combination is bet on for the first time or when a dividend changes by more than 5% because of a particularly large bet.

Importantly, because TSP also accommodates different currencies, bet types, time zones and languages, it represents a significant improvement on the archaic ITSP (Inter Tote System Protocol) commonly used for commingling pools in North America.

Racing administrators worldwide recognise and encourage the commingling of wagering pools as a way of attracting bigger punters and international interest in their racing.

Given that they have a common obsession with wagering as the major source of funding their operations, it seems odd that the racing industry is prepared to tolerate partnerships with wagering operators whose systems are so primitive.

The combination of poor wagering systems and entrenched monopolies such at TabCorp which have no incentive to upgrade means that the racing industry is stuck with a glacial rate of change for any wagering innovation.

The excellence of the TSP protocol means that cross border pools are considerably easier to create and maintain if all wagering operators are similarly equipped.

What it means for instance is that if the NZRB wants to internationalise New Zealand racing much more than it is at present, it only need find a wagering operator utilising the Typhoon platform in another country and almost overnight it can expand its pools.

While the NZRB is currently Typhoon's first international sale, it is not hard to imagine that as the technology becomes more widely used a key selling point will be the ability of its purchaser to quickly expand pool sizes and hence the popularity of its racing.

For the first time, the buyer of an off the shelf totalisator system will be able to not only sell bets on all major distribution platforms, but will also gain access to a much wider market than it is currently servicing.

Cyberhorse 2022 Bill Saunders Published 20/10/09