American Vs British Horse Betting

Horse racing is a popular sport worldwide. But many are shocked to discover “horse racing” in the UK has nearly five times the amount of monthly searches than the US. The phrase is searched 246 thousand times per month in the UK compared to 49.5 thousand times in the US. Yet, given the population of the US (approx. 323.1 million), dwarfs that of the UK (approx. 65.64 million) and you could fit the UK into the US forty times over, many believe that horse racing in the US is not as popular compared to its transatlantic friend. Join us as we compare the differences between American and English horse betting, including the legalities at the core of these two respective horse racing industries.

MyWinners Expert Team

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United stakes

Image alt text: Statue of Barbaro outside Churchill Downs Racetrack.


The UK’s love affair with horse racing includes jumps races, turf tracks and free-range in horse race betting. While the US equally enjoys horse racing, particularly flat and fast races on left-handed dirt surfaces. Unlike the UK, the horse racing betting industry in the US is heavily regulated with regards to how it is organized and governed.

This fragmentation is what creates the biggest difference between horse race betting in the US and UK as today’s horse race betting in the US is all pari-mutuel, and all the money goes into pools. With pari-mutual betting you don’t know the odds or returns before you place the bet. This way, everybody gains the same return no matter the odds at the time they placed their wager, and all bets are based on the total in the pool at the time the horse race takes place.

Derby differences

Princess Eugenie attends annual Royal Ascot horse racing event in 2012.


In the UK, however, this is the equivalent of a tote. If you were to place a horse racing bet in the UK, once you buy a ticket you receive the odds and the price placed on that horse at that time, and your bet is locked in place. But, these difference do not explain away the huge gap in audiences between these two nations when it comes to horse race betting. Which begs the question: is American horse racing losing interest amongst the public? As some sources, including The Guardian, have claimed.

We don’t think so. This drastic difference in horse race searches can be partially explained in cultural terms. What does this mean? Put simply, it’s difficult for even the most famed racetracks in the US, such as Saratoga and Churchill Downs, to compete with the star-studded UK racetracks Ascot and Newmarket.

Ascot is one of the most prestigious of all UK horse racing venues, the races are viewed in over 200 countries around the world and the stables welcome approx. 300,000 visitors, including royalty, to its grass track each year. Ascot hosts the most valuable race meeting in the UK, with a staggering £5.5 million (approx. $7.294 million) in prize money, which is slightly more than even the biggest US races. No wonder the British love horse race betting a little more than the average American.

Online odds and opportunities

US horse race betting also faces decline as there are too many tracks, fewer fans and not enough bets. Even the introduction of racinos have failed to entice fans back to the stables. Since the golden era of horse racing which included Man o’ War, Secretariat and Seabiscuit, the sport of kings has failed to reach the same levels of popularity.

However, race tracks themselves have tried to adapt to a new digital world and have online betting sites for casual and avid gamblers, in attempts to compete with the rise of horse racing online betting fan pages and news sites such as Horse Racing Nation, DRF and Paulick Report.

Here at Mywinners, we work hard to not only provide information about the best in the US race tracks, tips, top picks, results and odds. We also bridge the gap between our users passion for horse racing and an online community of fellow bettors and expert advice.