New Zealand Racing Board

10 September 2015

When the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) began their process of looking at a replacement system they focused their sights on the most mature market available and came to the UK. Both Openbet and 2DB were approached but it was MRG Systems who succeeded in their bid. The contract for a replacement screen and studio system was signed in November 2010 and the first two outlets went live during March 2011.

NZRB text based system

The NZRB is the state owned body providing a Tote betting service. They have been running a Teletext based system for over thirty years, which prompted the decision to find a replacement.

The core requirement was for the text system to be replaced with a modern, technically advanced and feature-rich product that echoed the many changes taking place in the industry. Over nine hundred existing outlets are to be updated over a four year period. Typical outlets range between betting offices, agencies, clubs, and pubs.

Because of the controls and automations they had introduced over the years their studio was only manned by a couple of operators. They had also created their own TV channel to insert marketing graphics and a key requirement for any new system was to ensure that staffing in the studio did not require any additional resource above and beyond existing levels. This meant that the new system had to run with a high degree of automation.

pre bid5

BIDS5 infrastructure

MRG had already set about re-writing their highly successful BIDS software. Whilst much innovative automation had been introduced previously, the NZRB contract would be a step change in terms of its complexity and reach.

To do this effectively the business rules were documented to ensure both sides had a clear understanding. This has resulted in the development of the automations now available.
Defining the business rules starts with how the information should be arranged on the screens and what, if any, additional information should be included with the events. The automations also define how the system should react to external events such as offs, and how the display should change during the day. Automations can be made to be as complex or simple as required to provide the correct facilities.

Each automation has a user interface which allows an operator to make adjustments for minor changes required during the day. Automations are specific to each customer who define how much control is required by the operator to run the service.

The mechanics

There are two XML feed processors reading data from the NZRB data source. One supports racing and the other one looks after the sports. Using two feeds allows different mappings to be set up for each type of data. All data is passed through the BIDS Business Logic Tier which handles updates to the database in a structured manner.
The user interface allows an operator to control the system, create schedules and marketing carousels. It also allows a user to interact with the running automation to change timings etc.
The application that runs the schedules is called Supervisor and, in conjunction with the automation plugin, generates the display scripts that control the behaviour of the templates on the shop server.

Another service receives messages from the other applications and outputs the data in packets of data obeying the BIDS5 protocol. A potentially large number of shop servers are maintained in an active list of servers that are reported back to a database. A packet store is maintained which is capable of archiving several days’ worth of packets so that shop servers that have missed packets or have been disconnected for a length of time can be updated without requiring a retransmission from the central site. The Shop Server maintains its own database, which it uses to update the displays.

bid51

bid52

In shops where the system has been implemented it has been proven to increase turnover by an average of 10% in the first few months.

Dave Rodden: General Manager, Retail said; “The New Zealand Racing Board has set itself the target of being a world leader in retail betting, and of providing our customers with the very best possible wagering experience. The new screen system developed for us by MRG is the first tangible evidence of our determination to break new ground, and we are absolutely delighted at the way that MRG have taken our vision and turned it into a compelling, dynamic betting shop product that will amaze our customers, and stimulate significant additional turnover.”

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