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Winlight Bets’ Rex Simmermaker Talks PlayNHRA Sports Gambling Initiative

In a recent episode of The Wes Buck Show, co-hosts Wes Buck, Mike Carpenter and JT Hudson delved into the hot topic of sports gambling in drag racing. They were joined by Rex Simmermaker from Winlight Bets, who shed light on the PlayNHRA sports gambling initiative and its potential impact on the sport.

“Drag racing is a wild beast,” Simmermaker said, highlighting the unique challenges and opportunities that sports gambling could bring to the sport. He emphasized that the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) is making significant strides in regulating and incorporating sports betting. “NHRA is trying to get their arms around the situation before it goes out unregulated.”

Simmermaker acknowledged the polarizing nature of sports gambling but underscored its potential to enhance fan engagement. “This could bring an air of integrity to our sport that’s been lacking for a while,” he remarked. The hosts discussed how gambling could shift focus to individual drivers, much like fantasy sports have done for traditional sports.

Addressing concerns about fairness and regulation, Simmermaker explained that covered stakeholders, including drivers and media personnel, are prohibited from participating in NHRA fantasy leagues offering cash or valuable prizes. “We want to ensure there’s no unfair advantage due to preferential access to information,” he noted. The NHRA is working diligently to set up clear reporting processes for any gambling-related issues.

Simmermaker sees sports gambling as a way to draw new fans to the sport. “If people can make legal wagers on drag racing, it will bring in a lot of people who aren’t necessarily die-hard fans,” he explained. The potential for fans to win significant prizes could also boost interest and investment in the sport. “When you see someone win $700 because they picked the right driver, it creates a buzz and raises awareness.”

Looking ahead, Simmermaker is optimistic about the collaboration between Winlight Bets and the NHRA. “Our goal is to create an engaging and fair betting environment for drag racing fans,” he said. He emphasized the importance of starting with strong foundations and gradually building up the initiative. “You have to start somewhere, and I think the NHRA is in a very good position to capitalize on this opportunity.”

Lastly, Simmermaker reassures the group that while NHRAPlay might be a competitor to Winlight Bets, there’s already a similar competition model in play. 

“I don’t think this precludes Winlight Bets from working with the NHRA at all long term,” he added. “If you think about it, it doesn’t take too long to realize that you can make wagers at FanDuel, DraftKings BetMGM and Caesars, etc. on the NFL so this is not much different in my opinion.”

This story was originally published on May 23, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.