Is betting on the horses still as popular as it once was?
Placing bets on horse races and other sporting events has traditionally been one of the most popular pastimes for decades. However, with the rise of digital gaming and new tech-driven experiences, is betting on the horses still as popular as it once was?
In Australia, the answer appears to be a resounding yes. A major survey found almost one million people placed bets on horse racing in 2015, with bettors putting around half of their typical outlet on races and the rest on other activities and markets.
When broken down further, the average proportion of expenditure for race betting tops out at 52%, putting it way ahead of lottery tickets (19%), general sports betting (10%), electronic gambling machines (10%), and other gambling (8%).
Young and old alike enjoy betting.
The research suggests that betting on horse racing is arguably the most popular form of gambling in Australia and that participation is not just restricted to older generations. More than a third of people that regularly place bets are 30 years old or younger.
These trends are present in other countries as horse racing is still the most popular sport for betting markets in the UK. In terms of growth, it is even outpacing soccer.
A study from 2018 showed that 97.4% of respondents aged 18 to 54 bet on horse racing. Its popularity can be attributed to iconic events that litter the annual racing calendar such as the Grand National, Cheltenham Festival, Epsom Derby, and Royal Ascot.
Between April 2017 and March 2018, around £4.3bn was placed on horse race betting in the UK. That vast amount has been fuelled by the emergence of fully featured mobile apps and online sites that enable bettors to access in-play markets with ease during race meetings.
Mobile and in-play bets
In-play betting is one of the ways horse race betting has evolved. It has helped it remain engaging and relevant for new audiences that want immediate and intuitive betting experiences across various devices.
In-play isn’t technically a cutting-edge advancement. However, mobile tech such as GPS, data transmission, and 4G and 5G networks and user experiences have advanced in recent years has provided gamblers with more freedom with how they approach their betting strategies for horse racing.
Bettors can also find more information about horses and races with a click of a button than ever before rather than rely on physical form books and guides.
That has made betting markets more accessible as bettors can see a horse’s stride length and pattern, speeds at different stages, and recent results.
There is also an abundance of online sites that provide the best horse racing tips so that bettors can use hard facts, stats, forecasts, and advice from experts to inform their strategies and decisions.
The vast scale of betting markets
Beyond the technical advancements, horse betting markets also have a few inherent advantages over other gambling types. For example, many sports are restricted to win/lose type bets that are very straightforward outside of a few exotic bets.
In contrast, horse racing provides an incredible number of betting options. While you can limit yourself to one horse, even novice bettors often opt for each-way bets and more advanced bets to improve winning chances. For example, an each-way bet can lead to a payout if the horse your back finishes in the top three or four.
The sheer scale of horse racing markets is unmatched as there are usually multiple races in different locations around the world on any given day. Combination bets are popular for that reason and can lead to large payouts when used correctly.
Another reason why betting on horses remains a popular, mainstream activity is accessibility to broadcasts on digital terrestrial TV and paid subscription services. As noted earlier, horse racing meets are covered nearly every day, and the big events during the year draw massive crowds on-site and large viewing figures on TV.
The long-running tradition of watching and betting on horse races coupled with new tech that has made it easier for punters to access markets means the sport is as relevant and popular as it ever was.
In Australia, both men and women are still enjoying the experience of betting, and expenditure for race betting still dwarfs that of other markets, even outside of sport, so it is fair to say it will be prevalent for the foreseeable future.