Can Fixed Odds Help Fuel Horse Racing’s Growth at Sportsbooks?

Last Saturday’s running of the Belmont Stakes concluded the 2023 Triple Crown, and marked the end of horse racing’s season in the minds of casual fans.

As a niche sport, horse racing is always looking for ways to appeal to mainstream America and a younger demographic. A recent study commissioned by BetMakers Technology Group found that fixed-odds betting options might just be the answer.

Horse racing mostly operates on a parimutuel wagering system, with odds that are determined by the amount of money bet on each entry and therefore shift after a bet is placed. Tracks typically take approximately 20% out of betting pools as their revenue.  

With fixed odds, a bettor locks in their price when making the wager, similar to sports betting. 

Key Findings From Industry Survey 

BetMakers provides technology to Monmouth Park for MonmouthBets, which owns the distinction of being the first and only legal fixed-odds wagering platform in the US.

The survey included responses from 1,500 participants. Half of the respondents identified as  “sports bettors” and the other half as “horseplayers.” Here are some key findings:

  • 83% of horseplayers want fixed odds to be added to pari-mutuel betting on horse racing
  • 67% of sports bettors are more likely to wager on horse racing if it becomes available on their sportsbook app
  • 66% of sports bettors are more likely to wager on horse racing if they can access fixed odds
  • 64% of horseplayers have bet on horse racing outside of the pari-mutuel system at offshore sportsbooks or racebooks

“That 83% of surveyed horseplayers would like fixed odds to be added to pari-mutuel betting on racing is a resounding figure that speaks to the opportunity racing has in the United States to tailor a product that speaks to a new generation of horseplayer,” BetMakers Technology Group CEO Jake Henson said in a press release.

Ushering in New Era of Horse Bettors

Betting on horse racing can be intimidating to new and younger players. The recent survey found this proved to be a barrier of entry, as 20% of US sports bettors listed horse racing as “too complicated” to bet on.

Fixed odds on horse racing could help grow the sport in US.
Arcangelo, with jockey Javier Castellano, crosses the finish line to win the 155th running of the Belmont Stakes last Saturday. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Gaming Today recently ran a series of Horse Racing 101 tutorials explaining how to make certain wagers including exactas and superfectas. At 32%, the win, placeshow wager is still the top wager among US horseplayers. You are betting a horse to finish first, second, or third, respectively, in those markets.

Fixed odds for these types of basic straight bets could help clear up confusion among those new to the sport, and help usher in a new generation of players.

“We firmly believe that fixed odds can be a stimulus for growth in the US racing industry,” Henson said. “We’ve already seen that in New Jersey the product has opened horseplayers’ eyes to new possibilities, and the rise in sports betting has created an opportunity for the racing industry to reach new players through American sportsbooks.”

Will Horse Racing Benefit From US Sports Betting Boom?

If horse racing is included in the A-to-Z list of available sports at commercial sportsbooks such as FanDuel and BetMGM, that will be a boon for the sport.

“It’s the only way to reinvigorate the US market,” Jason Scott, BetMGM’s former VP of Trading, told Gaming Today last September. “We found everywhere else in the world, customers want to understand and know what price they’re going to get.”

Sportsbooks, though, must be willing to assume the risk of offering fixed odds. Books will need to have sharp oddsmakers dedicated to horse racing to offer fixed odds in the future. Tracks, of course, are guaranteed revenue with their takeout percentage based on parimutuel wagering.

PlayUp US Head of Wagering Rex Beyers grew up in the shadows of Churchill Downs. The Australian-based company he works for is very familiar with the success of fixed-odds on horse racing Down Under. But Beyers had more questions than answers when it came to fixed-odds racing succeeding in the US.

“I don’t know if there are enough people that can possibly sit down there in the chair and trade the prices against the people that are betting them,” Beyers told Gaming Today earlier this year.  “I don’t know what the liquidity would be either. I’m not sure how the splits would break out between the horsemen who count so much on parimutuel and the tracks that do too, but they could write more volume with fixed (odds). I’d like to think it would work.”

About the Author
Kris Johnson

Kris Johnson

Senior Writer
Kris Johnson is a senior writer at Gaming Today with more than 15 years of experience as a sports journalist. Johnson's work has appeared in Sports Business Daily, Sports Business Journal, NASCAR Illustrated, and other publications. He also authored a sports betting novel titled The Endgame.

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