Generating ROI with Guest Wi-Fi at Horse-Race Speeds!


In the last few years, the Horse Racing Tracks industry has been facing some serious challenges as competing leisure and gambling activities progressively outcompete horse racing tracks in attracting customers. According to the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities Annual Report and Statista, close to 98.5 million people have attended any horse racing event in the US in 2016 down from 9.5 million in 2008.

The industry is expected to continue to decline over the five years to 2021, albeit at a slower rate than in the previous five years according to IBIS World Research. The industry will still have to confront the long-term issue of the declining popularity of horse racing.

This is a great opportunity for this industry not particularly known for its innovation, to embrace the very same technology that is contributing to its decline, the internet, and all the opportunities it offers.

NYRA: Where Tradition Meets Innovation

The New York Racing Association Inc. (NYRA) which operates the three largest thoroughbred horse-racing tracks in the state of New York is a good example of an institution proud of its history and traditions but ready to embrace new technologies to stay relevant.

Founded in 1955 and franchised to run thoroughbred racing at New York’s three major tracks (Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course) through 2033, the New York Racing Association’s mission is “Meeting the highest standards in thoroughbred racing and equine safety.”

In 2016, more than 1.76 million people attended live races at NYRA tracks. Factoring in nationwide off-track wagering, the average daily betting handle totaled more than $11 million, representing a 3.2% increase from 2015.

The NYRA recently decided to leverage its existing guest Wi-Fi offering and utilize a Monetization & Engagement Solution from RaGaPa and the results are already impressive.

Guest Wi-Fi at NYRA

This innovative platform from RaGaPa allows NYRA to engage and market to its guests via the free Wi-Fi service offered at its racing tracks.

RaGaPa’s CaptiveXS solution is currently deployed at the Saratoga Race Course, which has a capacity of 50,000 spectators and is considered the oldest sporting venue of any kind in the country. CaptiveXS solution incorporates essential guest Wi-Fi features including captive portal with social login, IoT discovery and management, content filtering and content insertion. The solution is cloud-managed and delivered as a software.

CaptiveXS integrates seamlessly with Saratoga Race Course’s existing Wi-Fi network which consists of 200 access points serving typically a concurrency between 10-15,000 client devices.

Providing a better on-site experience

The CaptiveXS innovative platform places an advertisement or an in-house promotional message at the bottom of the screen on any device that is using the guest Wi-Fi.

This partnership enables NYRA to promote season passes, loyalty programs signup and NYRA’s mobile applications (NYRA Bets, NYRA Now and NYRA XP). The engagement platform also helps NYRA in pushing promotional giveaways and display banners for the community relations booth identifying which civic organization is at the track that day.

“We looked at various engagement solutions in the market and selected the CaptiveXS from RaGaPa because the solution is elegant and meets both our short term and long term sales and marketing requirements” said Bob Hughes, NYRA’s VP & Chief Information Officer.

In less than a month since deployment, CaptiveXS Solution has already delivered hundreds of thousands of impressions with above average click-through rates. The highest engagement happens during the weekends when the park is at full capacity.

“We wanted a solution that was easy to deploy and enabled us to engage with our users in real-time with the least friction possible” Hughes added. “Our choice proved right since we were able to deploy in a very short time over a well-coordinated effort just a day before the actual start of season”.

Gaining a better understanding of its customer base

In the long run, the CaptiveXS will also enable NYRA to start building a more detailed and comprehensive profiling of their customer base. Guest Wi-Fi provides the opportunity for horse-tracks to acquire customer insights from their Wi-Fi network including footfall traffic, consumption trends such as food and beverages, horse betting, etc. Guest Wi-Fi can also be used to assist customers with horse track timely information and alerts and provide a more personalized experience.

Affordable guest Wi-Fi solutions are available today, such as CaptiveXS from RaGaPa, which offers all the content insertion, captive portal with social login, content filtering and data collection and analytics functionality on top of a secure, easy to use guest Wi-Fi platform.

RaGaPa’s CaptiveXS solution combines all the essential Wi-Fi services into a unified platform managed through a cloud-based dashboard. With CaptiveXS, out-of-the box IoT security and engagement/monetization tools can help businesses of any size provide a safe and engaging guest Wi-Fi experience. The key CaptiveXS features include – IoT Discovery, Management and Security, Captive Portal with Social Login, Content Filtering, Content Insertion, Deep User Analytics and User Management. Learn more at


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Mr. Fellah, is a Senior Analyst and founder of Maravedis with 20-year experience in the wireless industry. He authored various landmark reports on Wi-Fi, LTE, 4G and technology trends in various industries including retail, restaurant and hospitality. He is regularly asked to speak at leading wireless and marketing events and to contribute to various influential portals and magazines such as RCR Wireless, 4G 360, Rethink Wireless, The Mobile Network, Telecom Reseller to name a few. He is a Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) and Certified Wireless Technology Specialist (CWTS).


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