Horse racing and betting on horse races have stood the test of time. Its beginnings were in ancient Greece, and it became popular in the U.K. and Europe before eventually spreading to the U.S. Today horse racing betting is legal in many U.S. states, including in Pennsylvania.
The history of horse racing betting in Pennsylvania
Wagering on horse racing in Pennsylvania became legal in 1959 when the state legislature passed the Race Horse Industry Reform Act. This act permitted betting on harness racing. The Meadows Racetrack opened in 1963 and is still operating today.
In 1968, came the legalization of thoroughbred racing. The Penn National Race Course was one of the first race tracks to open for thoroughbred racing. The main difference between the two types of horse racing is that harness racing is slower. The horses pull a chariot which means extra weight.
In 2004, the Race Horse Development and Gaming Act gave the Pennsylvania horse racing industry a real boost. In Pennsylvania today you are never far from a racetrack. There are six main horse tracks, and the different track’s partner with different casino brands. This offers access to casinos, sportsbooks, dining, and entertainment options at race tracks.
One of the most popular race tracks is Parx Racing and Casino in Bensalem which has seen many top thoroughbreds come through its gates. The racetrack has changed hands and has been renamed many times. In 1990, Greenwood Racing Inc. took control of the racetrack and allowed ‘club’ membership which enhanced customer loyalty.
It was in 2006 that the racetrack expanded and a casino was opened. At Parx Casino PA you can watch major races at the track and bet at the casino. Parx Casino also offers online betting on its betPARX app and has one of the best online casino bonuses in the state.
Horse racing uses a “pari-mutuel” betting system. This means you wager directly against other bettors in a ‘pool’ and not against the house like you do with other sports betting. When you buy a $2 ticket on a horse it is rather like buying a share on the stock market. You are buying a share in the performance of the horse in the race.
The odds are also different in horse racing than they are in other forms of sports betting. If you want to know how sports betting works, it revolves around the odds which indicate the probability of an outcome occurring. Horse racing odds appear as ‘number to number’ odds. If you wager $3 on a horse with 10-3 odds, you will win $10 if the horse wins. If you wager $30 you win $100.
What are the biggest horse races in the U.S.?
On a national level horse racing bettors enjoy wagering on the Triple Crown races. Three of the most viewed horse races are the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes, and the Preakness Stakes. Just as sports bettors with a love for golf can bet on various online golf games, you can bet on horse racing at online sites. Online horse racing betting sites usually have a mobile app for you to download.
Pennsylvania’s biggest races
In Pennsylvania, there are some major races that attract bettors. The Pennsylvania Derby and the Cotillion Stakes are held at Parx Casino Racetrack annually and each has a purse of $1 million. The Penn Mile is held annually at Penn National Racetrack and has a purse of $500,000. The Presque Isle Downs mile in Erie, PA has a purse of $250,000. The busiest time of the year at the Parx Casino Racetrack is in the fall with the two big races.