Horse racing is one of the most ancient sports in human history. Visiting a horse race has been a beloved pastime all over the world for centuries, and the gambling aspect of it has greatly contributed to the sport’s popularity, generating over $115 billion a year globally. That is why in this article we explore in which countries people bet on horse racing the most.
Some of the most elite competitions in the world are held in the US, including Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.
The most common type of horse betting in the US is for a horse to win (finish first), to place (finish first or second) or to show (finish first, second or third), and betting is predominantly pari-mutuel, meaning that all the bets on a particular race are pooled and split among the winning bettors. Thus, bettors don’t know in advance how big their winnings will be, because this depends on the total number of bettors.
The Melbourne Cup, annual event held in Melbourne, known as “the race that stops a nation“, is the biggest horse racing event in Australia, the country in which the sport was officially established already in 1810. Some of the best Thoroughbred horses are bred here. Several bodies, including the Australian Racing Board, govern racing and betting in Australia. Betting options include both on and off course betting, with fixed odds as well as pari-mutuel.
Horse racing has a long tradition in the UK. The two main kinds of races are Flat and National Hunt, bets are usually made through bookmakers giving fixed odds, either online or in stores, and the annual turnover amounted to around £4.5 billion last year. The most prestigious races include Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot, The Grand National and Cheltenham Festival.
Horse racing is extremely popular in Japan and is one of only four sports Japanese can legally bet on, in addition to powerboat races, motorbikes races and cycling. The Japan Cup and The Nakayama Grand Jump attract thousands of visitors every year.
With a horse racing betting turnover exceeding $22 billion in 2015, Japan is the country with most horse racing bets placed of all the countries on this list.
Over the past years, Hong Kong has established itself as one of the world centres of elite horse racing. Here, betting on horse races is part of the culture. The Hong Kong Jockey Club, founded in 1884, holds monopoly over horse race betting in Hong Kong and is the largest taxpayer in the city. Last year it recorded a record turnover of £11.2 billion from horse betting.
The world’s richest turf race, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is held annually in France, just outside Paris. France is a world leader in the sport, organizing over 2000 meeting annually, both gallop and trotting. Other major events include The Grand Prix de Printemps series of races and the Week-end International de l’Obstacle.