Danger at the Track: Horse Betting and Problem Gambling

horse race

Oftentimes, when a discussion takes place around problem gambling, images of slot machines or card games come to mind. Betting on horse races is often overlooked as a potential source of problem gambling. This leaves many individuals to fend for themselves when trying to seek help for a gambling problem.

With the continued popularity of off-track betting (OTB) and the rise of online betting in horse racing, the possibility of a gambling issue arising is further enhanced. These methods, as mentioned above, have streamlined the betting process, making it easier for someone to fall into the repetitive behaviors of placing wagers on horse races.

The Complex Nature of Betting on Horse Races

Like all forms of sports betting, wagers on horse races are a detailed process that requires educating oneself about the different horses, jockeys, track conditions, racing history, and other variables. A seasoned gambler understands how complex placing a single bet can be when wagering on a race. You can place bets on the winner, second place, and third place positions. You can also wager on which horse will lose the race or if a horse can overcome a handicap to win. 

The in-depth calculations that go into horse betting make it more enticing to someone that may be susceptible to problem gambling. In a study conducted on 508 horse race gamblers, incidents of problem and pathological gambling were 39.4% and 24.0%, respectively. This is a clear indication that horse betting is just as significant a cause of problem gambling as other games of chance.

The Rise of OTB and Online Wagers

Traditionally, placing a wager on a horse race required attending the race in person. In the 1970s, off-track betting was legalized and allowed individuals to place bets on horse races without being at the event in person. Since that time, off-track betting has significantly increased in popularity, making it easier to participate in the horse betting process.

Online betting has also become mainstream, opening yet another avenue for individuals to place wagers on horse races. Now, by simply accessing an app on your smartphone, you can place a bet on a race without stepping outside of your home.

These convenient ways to participate in horse betting may add a bit of excitement to a casual gambler’s life. Yet, they can be a doorway to serious issues for those that are vulnerable to the problem-gambling nature of games of chance.

If you or someone you love is experiencing a problem with gambling, please contact our 24/7 helpline. Always remember, help is available, and now is the time to overcome problem gambling.



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