Survivor Meets Deal Or No Deal: Racing Game Wins Symposium Competition - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Survivor Meets Deal Or No Deal: Racing Game Wins Symposium Competition

Shaun Pyrah, one of the inventors of Swop Stakes, wins the Innovator’s Circle competition

A horse racing jackpot game that combines elements of Daily Fantasy Sports, “Survivor”-style pools, and the game show “Deal Or No Deal” won the first ever Innovators' Circle contest Wednesday at the University of Arizona's Global Symposium on Racing and Gaming.

Swop Stakes, a game set to launch in Australia next spring, was one of the four finalists to make presentations to Symposium attendees and a panel of three judges — with a cash prize of $15,000 at stake.

To give people a feel for the game, Shaun Pyrah of Six Faces, the company that designed Swop Stakes, distributed game tickets and offered a $3,000 vacation package as the ultimate prize for a five-race contest.

How the game works: Players purchase “quick-pick” tickets that include runners in a series of races. While the tickets are random, players can then buy, sell or trade tickets with the “bank” or with each other, depending on whether they like what they have or not. Pyrah likens it to poker, a game in which the players don't know the cards they will receive but then manage the cards once they have them.

“Before each race, you're able to look at your tickets, and if you think you've got the winner in the next race, you're going to hang on to that. You're going to 'hold',” said Pyrah. “If your ticket contains a horse that might not win, you can cash that out to the bank —the house — and get a value for that. If you just want to increase your chance of winning, you can 'raise' and buy more tickets.”

Each game has one ultimate winner, but Pyrah said skilled players can trade their way through the contest until their ticket reaches a certain value, and they can cash out for a profit. Swop Stakes is an online/mobile game with leaderboards and a social element that is cleary targeting Millennials.

“We've looked at the success of Daily Fantasy with Draft Kings, with FanDuel and we've said how do we apply that type of model, which is obviously attractive to a market racing isn't reaching, to racing,” Pyrah said. “That's why we constructed a game that doesn't look like a wagering site. It looks like a game. And it's definitely a combination of Survivor meets Deal or No Deal.”

Pyrach hopes his successful journey to the U.S. might lead to interest for adopting the game in North America.

One of the other finalists also pitched a mobile racing game targeting Millennials. Racehorse owner Joel Benson is launching a game called 20 Wins a Million, in which a player who correctly picks 20 winners in a sequence of races collects $1 million. Yes, 20 races. Despite the difficult task, Benson believes young people will play because the game is free, and prizes are awarded starting with having one of the top finishers in the first three races.

Benson hopes to partner with tracks around the country, and the tracks could choose the kinds of prizes offered. 20 Wins a Million is based on a Major League Baseball game called Beat the Streaka popular contest that has continued for 14 years without one ultimate winner. The ultimate prize is now $5.6 million.

The Innovators' Circle finalist with the most votes from the audience was Dr. Sheila Lyons, a veterinarian who pitched an Equine Standing 3D CT Scanner. Lyons hopes to do a year-long study with three racetracks, testing all horses on track with her proposed technology. Scans would only take one minute, would allow horses to stand and therefore require only very light sedation at most, and would produce 3D images that could help vets detect issues well ahead of a catastrophic breakdown.

“Ideally we want to apply this technology so we can identify the earliest signs of arthritis and treat them,” said Lyons.

The other finalists pitched their Thoroughbred Stock Exchange, a new “ownership experience,” in which the ownership of racehorses is divided into 1,000 shares, priced at about $60 each. Owners can buy and sell their shares and also enjoy the benefits of ownership through the Stock Exchange's Stable Club.

The first Innovators' Circle award contest attracted 89 submissions in a process that started in early September. Submissions came from North and South America, Australia, Europe and Africa.

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