One of the most exciting aspects of attending a horse race is to speculate or even bet money on who will win the race. For many people, placing bets on the horses is the primary reason why they go to these races. Some tracks of international renown have made betting illegal. But most other tracks allow it in some form or the other.
The most common form of betting is parimutuel betting in which the money contributed by all the gamblers is pooled together and the winner(s) of the main bet gets a proportionally large share of the money. Another method followed in the UK, Ireland, and Australia is where the odds of a particular horse winning or losing is the basis for the bet. Parimutuel betting in addition to making money for certain individuals is a good source of tax income for the host country. In the 53 countries where betting is allowed, it is estimated that over $100 billion is wagered annually.
The races in North America follow a simple method with gamblers playing to win, to show or to place. Placing ‘to win’ bets puts a certain amount on a horse and if it wins, the gambler wins. This is also called a ‘straight bet’. In ‘to place’ bets, money is placed on the position that a particular horse is likely to achieve, whether it is first, second, third or even further down. The number of places is also dependant on the number of participants.
For example, if a race has only five participants, ‘to place’ bets can only be assigned to the first and second place. A ‘bet to show’ wins if the horse with the gambler’s money places first, second or third. Since the chances of winning this kind of bet is quite high, the winning amount is much lower than what it is for a ‘to win’ bet.