Florida's Horseracing Industry Should Get a Boost from Chase Credit Card Risk

Folks who play fantasy sports have been able use their credit cards to do it. Not so, for horseplayers who want to bet on the ponies online.

Card transactions for horseracing fall under a particular credit card code that identifies those types of transactions as a higher risk than other types of gaming transactions.

Until now.

And what a boon JPMorgan Chase's latest move could be in Florida, where -- try as it may -- even the state Legislature hasn't yet managed to kill horseracing.

Earlier this week the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced JPMorgan Chase has begun approving credit card transactions assigned the horse racing code with advanced deposit wagering, provided they're a licensed and regulated U.S. company and provided a player is operating out a state where such wagering is legal -- which it is in the Sunshine State.

This is significant because Chase represents the largest credit card issuer in the U.S., boasting more than 80 million active cardholder accounts.

Advanced deposit wagering -- or ADW -- is something that allows pari-mutuel bettors to deposit funds into an account, then place their bets through the Internet or over the phone.

Some ADWs allow people to deposit into an account directly through a checking account, but especially in today’s world, it’s understandable that people are loathe to set their banking information afloat in treacherous cyberspace.

The positive thing for Florida, says the NTRA, is that Chase's decision to make life easier for bettors could significantly increase the "handle" at the state's five major tracks -- "handle" being race language for the amount of money bet on a single race, day or season.

More money bet, more hope for Florida's horseracing industry, threatened by Legislature-assisted death by casino takeover.

Said harness racing writer Brett Sturman, "We could certainly debate separately from a responsibility standpoint if players should be allowed to fund accounts through credit cards at all -- but to be clear -- the issue for horseplayers this entire time wasn’t restricted to only credit cards. As I can attest, debit cards (cards linked directly to bank accounts) have also been restricted at times ..."

Some in the banking industry suspect the Chase decision could be a testing of the waters for anticipated national legalized sports betting. But whatever the reason, a less restrictive stance being adopted by Chase is welcome news for both the ADWs and for the racing industry.

It also could lead to acceptance of transactions by other leading credit card issuers that have not allowed their Visa or MasterCard customers to use their cards to bet through licensed and regulated ADW accounts.

In its announcement, the NTRA praised the Chase decision as a win for the industry and it looks as if it is. Those who may have been turned off from wagering online through an ADW because of previous difficulties may now find the process not as challenging. And as a result, pari-mutuel handle in horseracing is likely to take an upward jump.

Florida's five major horse tracks serviced with ADWs are Gulfstream Park West,(formally Calder race track), Miami Gardens; Gulfstream Park, Hallandale Beach; Hialeah Park Race Track, Hialeah; Sunshine Raceway, Tampa Bay area; Tampa Bay Downs, Tampa.