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Sports betting and horse racing: What is the unique and historical relationship between the two?

Sports betting and horse racing: What is the unique and historical relationship between the two?

Horse racing remains one of the most popular sports around the world. From the Breeders’ Cup in the USA to the Grand National in the UK, it is a sport which appeals to many people. Of course, the talented jockeys and beautiful horses which make it so special help to explain this. Sports betting is another thing which springs to mind when you think of horse racing, and the two seem to be have a unique relationship which stretches back in time.

But what is this all about and what ties sports betting to horse racing still?

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Why is sports betting on horse racing so popular? 

Before we look at just what the historic link is between sports betting and horse racing, it is first worth looking at why people love to bet on this sport.

Firstly, conducting all the research into races and finding top sports betting picks is a lot of fun. It not only helps you to become more immersed in the sport, but also gives you a greater knowledge around it. Of course, if you get your research right, there is also the chance to make money from betting on horses. People also love betting on horse racing because there is always a race going on somewhere and lots of interesting markets to dive into.

What are the historical links between horse racing and sports betting? 

Although horse racing is now a global and modern sport, many think it dates back to 4500 BC. Since then, it has gone on to find popularity in the UK, the USA and other parts of the world. Modern racing is thought to really begin in the 12th century when Knights brought it back to England from the crusades. This early racing was an entirely private affair in which people raced their horses against one another. Interestingly, betting on the outcome sprung up during these early origins and added more excitement to the action.

Racing and betting grow in 17th century England

The 1600s saw racing take a big step forward in general because King James I made Newmarket the first center for horse racing in the UK. While there would have been no formal betting legislation or on-track bookies, it is fairly certain that bets would have been taking place privately. 

After Queen Anne II established the Royal Ascot festival in England during 1711, horse racing became the professional sport we know today with bigger fields per race and bigger purses on offer. This also led to more people beginning to place wagers on the outcome of races and sports betting forging a closer bond with the sport. 

Racing and sports betting in the USA

Around the same time as horse racing was taking hold in England, early settlers from the UK were also bringing it over to the USA. This resulted in 314 tracks being setup by 1890. People flocked to them to place bets on who might win. By 1894, the American Jockey club was founded and the sport has remained a popular in the USA to this day. 

But what about racing’s links to sports betting in the US? As in England and the rest of the world, betting on races is very popular. Indeed, on-track betting was the only official sports betting you could enjoy in most US states at one point. US bettors also like the fun and thrills which sports betting brings to racing. For this reason, they are closely tied together. 

Modern sports betting rules for horse racing

While there has always been a link between horse racing and betting, it has become more regulated over time. In the UK for example, there was the Race Betting Act of 1928 to counter illegal off-course betting rings. As other countries have followed suit in their legislation, it has meant that the ties between sports betting and racing have only strengthened. 

Online betting makes racing more accessible

Since the late 1990s, many countries have allowed people to bet on horse racing via internet sportsbooks and mobile apps. Although the USA was slow to catch on, many states are beginning to allow this now. Along with catching the latest horse racing news, this means many people in the US are beginning to place racing bets more regularly. Interestingly, it seems that the relationship between online betting and the sport has been mutually beneficial. As a result, both look to be in great shape moving forward.

Close link between sports betting and horse racing

As the above shows, there is a unique link between horse racing and sports betting which is as strong as ever today. Betting on horses goes right back to its early origins, which has resulted in the two growing together over time. 

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