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Review of Derby Jackpot
IntroductionDerby Jackpot is a legal, easy, and fun way of betting on horse races in the United States. Evidently, there is a loophole in the Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act of 2006 that makes an exception for horse racing. However, online gambling on horse racing is legal in 37 states only, so if you're located in one of the other 13, which includes Nevada, you're out of luck.
If your mental image of horse racing is a bunch of grey-haired, old men, analyzing cryptic statistics and speaking in terminology that may as well be Icelandic, then you are in for a big surprise with Derby Jackpot. To put it simply, it is a combination of slot machines, keno, and horse racing. There is the simplicity and fun graphics of slots, some choices of ways to bet of keno, and it is all based around actual horse races.
To start with, Derby Jackpot removes the standard terminology and introduces its own, which sounds less serious and more fun. Here is a translation guide between Derby Jackpot and standard horse racing terms:
Let me take a moment to review what these bets mean.
- Monkey/Win: Bet that a specified horse will win.
- Donkey/Place: Bet that a specified horse will come in first or second.
- Granny/Show: Bet that a specified horse will come in first, second, or third.
- Gonzo/Quinella: Bet on the fist and second horses to finish, in either order. In Derby Jackpot the player may also add a third horse, for the first, second and third horses to finish, in any order, which would be known as a "boxed trifecta" in standard terminology.
- Fiddy/Trifecta: Bet on the first, second, and third place horses in the exact order. The player may "box" this bet, to cover all six orders.
- Dime/Superfecta. Bet on the first, second, third, and fourth place horses in the exact order. The player may "box" this bet, to cover all 24 orders.
At the top of the screen there are also options to make a Superfecta bet on specified future races that day. Unlike making a Dime bet, this option shows the jackpot amount to be shared among all the winners. At the time of this writing the player could also make a bet on the Belmont Stakes, which is five days away as I write this (I can't help but add that I made a small bet elsewhere on American Pharaoh NOT to win).
Getting back to the routine races, the player is not inundated with endless statistics as he would be with a Racing Form. In fact, he isn't presented with any. Just the horses names and the going "win" odds on each horse. It is as simple as those old Derby horse racing games in Vegas (there still exists a couple at the MGM and D casinos), except there are more ways to bet. The more serious bettors can click on "race preview" to see a live feed from the track, including information on the various betting pools, scratched horses, and other things serious racetrack bettors care about.
To make it even easier and less intimidating, when making an exotic bet (anything based on more than one horse), the player not only can but is encouraged to pick randomly. For example, with the Gonzo/quinella bet, the player is asked to pick two or three cards, which represent specific horses. The player may switch cards if he doesn't like the ones he received and must always confirm any bet. Fiddy and Dime bets are presented like a slot machine where spinning reels determine the horses. The player can nudge the reels to switch to other horses or just spin again if he doesn't like the set he is given. The player may also choose to "box" the picks on Fiddy and Dime bets, which means to bet on every combination, so he doesn't have to get them in exactly the right order.
Unlike a horse racing book in Vegas, Derby Jackpot goes one race at a time. They seem to rotate between several different tracks around the United States. When one race is over, click "next race" and you're transported to some other part of country for another race. To make it more social, there is always a chat box running so players can post their opinions, congratulate the winners, and commiserate over their losses. There is also a leader board of the top ten "leading" players per day. This list shows the points of each player. How the points are earned, I have no idea.
When betting is closed at the actual tracks, so is it at Derby Jackpot, and the betting window is replaced by a live feed from the racetrack. You can then root on Shackleford, or whatever horse you bet on, just like you were there in person.
I'm 99.54% sure that most old timers are going to hate Derby Jackpot as it really does dumb down what is normally a very serious and statistics-heavy form of gambling. However, the creators of Derby Jackpot probably don't care. It seems pretty obvious they are going for a younger clientele that has previously been too intimidated to bet on horses. Judging by comments in the chat box, serious bettors are still welcome. While most bettors are probably picking randomly, or by the horse's name they like best, you do see some comments in the chat box that suggest some bettors have outside information about the particular race.
Financially speaking, the way it evidently works is the same as at a Vegas sports book -- all bets made go directly into the track pools. In other words, Derby Jackpot is not booking their own action but just providing a service, like off-track betting parlors in London or New York City. I verified this by checking my winning bets against the posted odds at the track and they matched.
Much like horse racing anywhere, the odds at Derby Jackpot are not very good. After the track takes its cut and the rounding down, the player can expect to lose about 20% on average on the simple Monkey, Donkey, and Granny (win, place, and show) bets and more on the exotic bets. As a player advocate, I have to say that if you are going to bet on horses anywhere, please do so in moderation and for the purposes of entertainment. Mathematically speaking, it is one of the worst forms of gambling in terms of the odds. However, many find it among the best in terms of fun and it is a slow way to lose your money as it takes time to get ready for a race and conduct the race itself. The time frame for races at Derby Jackpot is about one race every five minutes.
In closing, I think Derby Jackpot is a great idea. The way they present horse racing is very non-intimidating and should appeal to the generation who has grown up on Angry Birds and Candy Crush. I would make a Monkey bet on Derby Jackpot to be a huge success if I could.
Written by: Michael Shackleford