The Kentucky Derby and the Rise of Horse Betting

horse race

Since the first run on May 17, 1875, the Kentucky Derby has been one of the most popular sporting events in America. Triple Crown winners like American Pharoah and Secretariat have become household names. And now, the Derby is known for having the highest attendance, television ratings, and bets of any race in the U.S.

The Derby’s popularity among gamblers is only continuing to rise as the years go by. 2021 saw a groundbreaking number of wagers placed as hopes began to soar with a possible end to the global pandemic and as people sought excitement after a year in lockdown. While betting on the Kentucky Derby breaks up the monotony of everyday life, the uncertainty of the race poses a threat to gamblers’ financial standings. Should you be wary of placing bets on races when anything can happen?

Betting on Horse Racing Has Intensified Since the Pandemic

Over the past few years, people have been predicting the demise of betting on horse races as the number of race days has decreased, safety issues have arisen, and scandals have occurred. The start of the COVID-19 pandemic brought even more concerns for the state of the horse racing industry.

However, 2021 surprised everyone. The horse racing industry recorded the largest annual wagering handle since 2009. This $12.2 billion wagering handle was 11.86% higher than the wagering handle from 2020.

Why did horse betting increase in 2020 and 2021 despite the predictions? Some attribute the boost in wagers to increased free time and easier access to betting platforms. Others say betting became more rampant as people sought excitement and heart-pounding thrills of a big win after a year in lockdown.

What the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act Means for Gamblers

Of course, even when the global pandemic ends, we will not see the last wagers placed on horses. In fact, a new regulation is being passed in July 2022 that is designed to encourage the public to feel more comfortable with the integrity of horse racing. The Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act will require drug testing and policing to be completed by a centralized laboratory rather than individual state commissions. While this Act is designed to protect the safety and welfare of Thoroughbreds, it also boosts the horse racing industry’s image in the eyes of the public. And with this greater sense of confidence comes a potential for another spike in wagers placed.

Are You Developing a Horse Racing Gambling Issue?

Betting on a specific horse to win the race is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are able to regulate your behavior. However, with it becoming easier and easier to place bets, you may find yourself in a position where you are no longer in control. How do you know if you’ve reached this point? Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Have you ever lied to people you love about how much money you gambled?
  2. Have you felt like you needed to bet more and more money?

These are a few warning signs that you may be developing a gambling problem. The good news is that there is help available.

How to Find Help for Your Gambling Disorder

The Kentucky Derby is right around the corner. Are you worried about your behavior on this day? You can receive help on Derby Day or any other day by calling 1-800-GAMBLER. A trained telephone counselor can provide you with more information on gambling problems and help you get connected with gambling support groups. We also offer gambling help for family members because gambling issues affect the whole family. Don’t stress any longer; get help today!


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