Ruckus Powers Wi-Fi — And Mobile Betting — at Famed Saratoga Race Course

If you follow horse racing you probably know of the famed Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York, the oldest horseracing track in the U.S. Thanks to some gear from Ruckus Wireless that facility now has one of the newest technologies, a Wi-Fi network, which is not only bringing wireless access to fans but also powering mobile betting, where fans at the track can place bets from their seats, with a smartphone app. The network will be ready to rock for today’s opening of Saratoga’s 144th season, according to Ruckus.

We’re scheduled to speak directly with the Ruckus folks soon, so we’ll get more inside info on their overall sports network strategy (which has already seen contract wins at places like the 24 hours of LeMans and the Preakness) but getting into Saratoga is like winning the Kentucky Derby when it comes to scoring a sporting infrastructure contract. The real key to this system may be the ability for fans to use the Fastbet mobile betting app at the track, which will make it easier — and more lucrative for the track — for fans to make an impulse wager without having to stand in the traditional betting line.

And the New York Racing Association, which operates the 149-year-old track, will not just be using the Ruckus network for fan access, but also for other stadium applications, like ticketing. According to a press release, the NYRA also hopes to use the network to support streaming video and digital signage applications in the future.

Here’s the money quote from the NYRA, which hits on the main themes we’ve seen with stadium and event Wi-Fi: Fans are bringing phones to sports events, so adept operators are making moves to keep their patrons connected:

“Saratoga Race Course is one of the premier tracks in the country, and has been a place where racing fans and spectators have enjoyed the sport for nearly a century and a half,” said Tom Thill, CIO for NYRA.

“In very recent years we’ve seen the number of smartphones and mobile devices in use increase dramatically, and we knew we needed to deliver a wireless experience of the same caliber that we’ve always been committed to at the track.”

According to Ruckus, it took 45 of the company’s ZoneFlex dual-band 802.11n wireless access points (both indoor and outdoor units) to fully cover the 350-acre Saratoga site, including the main clubhouse, all restaurants, the outdoor track, fan seating areas, and the racetrack’s large picnic grounds. The network was installed and will be managed by the Albany, N.Y.-based system integrator Deep Blue Communications.

According to the NYRA, this is how the betting system will work:

Patrons will be able to utilize the new Wi-Fi network to link to United Tote’s FastBet Mobile, a wagering application available exclusively on-track and designed for use on smart phones and tablets, including iPhones, iPads and most Android based tablets and phones.

To use the application, NYRA Cash Cards will be available and can be loaded at any voucher window throughout the track. Further deposits, and any withdrawals, can be made at any window. Patrons may then access the FastBet page via the new Wi-Fi network with their device. Patrons enter the card’s account number and pin into FastBet to begin wagering. Once finished, patrons can choose to keep their account balance on their NYRA Cash Card or cash out at any teller window.

One more quote from Thrill? Why not:

“With the scalability and reliability that the Ruckus system delivers, our new mobile on-track wagering system will provide a significant revenue stream for us, while also helping the racecourse maintain its reputation as a top destination for watching state-of-the-art horseracing.”

Bonus: Here is a good Q&A with Ruckus’ CEO, Selina Lo, which covers a lot of ground on Ruckus’ business and notes the company’s impending IPO.


  1. […] gear supplier Ruckus Wireless has racked up another stadium win, this time as the technology behind a new Wi-Fi network at Time […]

  2. […] week was Wi-Fi vendor Ruckus Wireless filing for a $100 million IPO last Friday. As you’ve read here earlier Ruckus is heavily involved with the growing market for big-space Wi-Fi (like stadiums, racetracks […]

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