Bookies call on extra IT, bandwidth for Cup day

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Bookies call on extra IT, bandwidth for Cup day

Predict a fivefold increase in traffic.

Today's Melbourne Cup is likely to test the capacity of Australia's online betting agencies, with established operators beefing up internet bandwidth to data centres to cope with the expected surge in activity.

A spokesman for Tatts Group told iTnews that the wagering company increased its internet bandwidth from 200 Mbps to 1 Gbps at each of its data centres in preparation for the Melbourne Cup.

"Other system components are already sized to cater for the transaction loads of Melbourne Cup and large lottery draws," the spokesman said.

The spokesman expected to take up to 600 wagering bets per second, and process more than 4.5 million transactions overall.

He also expected the number of new registrations on to eclipse last week's $70 million OzLotto draw.

"In the lead up to last week's draw, 19,000 accounts were opened so we anticipate that over 25,000 accounts will be opened [for the Cup]," he said.

Betting agency Sportsbet's IT manager Wayne Meechan told iTnews that Cup day is "by far our most exciting day of the year".

He said Melbourne Cup day typically delivered a transaction volume spike of around 5-6 times that of a busy day.

"It certainly grows every year and the increasing penetration of smartphones adds to the complexity of it," Meechan said.

Sportsbet must host its servers in the Northern Territory where bets are executed under its licence arrangement.

Sportsbet uses virtualisation to provide extra machines quickly, has capacity on demand in its primary servers, and hosts its static content in other places to take the load off its Darwin-based data centre.

Access to adequate fibre bandwidth is also an important consideration for the day, Meechan said.

Steve Hodgkinson, research director with analyst firm Ovum, said the affordability of scalable services meant even smaller firms could deal with rapid increases in transaction demand.

"These days there are really no excuses for failing to build online systems that are resilient to rapid increases in demand.

"The combination of scalable back end cloud services (IaaS or SaaS) and resilient networking services and content delivery networks means that it is easier and more affordable for small companies to both engineer for rapid growth and to distribute their content globally without the need to invest capital in fixed ICT assets."

Mobile surge

Beyond the obvious, it is the increasing popularity of mobile betting that is presenting betting agencies with new challenges.

Meechan said Sportsbet is now processing more than 30 percent of bets from mobile devices.

Next year, Flemington racegoers will be able to tap into wi-fi being provided as part of a deal struck between the Victoria Race Club and Cisco.

The service will allow visitors to place bets, purchase food and drinks and watch the race in high definition video on their mobile devices.

Cisco said the service would also help overcome the mobile network overload issues that often plague big race meetings, freeing up the network for texts and voice calls.

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