The first official horse racing meeting in Australia took place in Hyde Park, Sydney in 1810. Governor Macquarie sanctioned the event meeting under the condition that there was to be “no gaming, drunkenness, quarreling, fighting or boxing”. How things have changed!
From humble beginnings, wagering in Australia continues to be one of the nation’s most favorite past times. Australian’s have always loved a bet. The types of bets and how they are placed continue to change.
- Bookmakers began taking bets at the racetrack in the 1850s. Initially, bets were taken in credit with the settlement made at local gentlemen’s clubs in the day following the races. The “Bookmaker’s Stand” was not seen until the 1880s, when one bookmaker produced a large bag and a stand at the races to indicate that he was at the races for the long haul and wasn’t going to be a runner!
- In 1913 mechanical engineer George Julius was interested in creating a system in which the money wagered could be evenly distributed based on the number of winning bets placed on the race. This system was known as the Totalisator and revolutionized betting. Initially only offered at race tracks, Racing clubs were able to take a percentage out of each prize pool and return the rest of bets in dividends to punters in each race. It was risk-free money for the race clubs.
Initially offered for win and place (first 3) betting, the “Tote” as it became known introduced a number of different betting options such as quinella and trifecta which offered larger payouts for a smaller stake. To this day, Tote betting is a very popular way to wager within Australia.
- Up until the 1930s bets on horse races could only be placed via the course Bookmakers or through the on-course totalisator. This provided an opportunity for illegal bookmakers to operate and illegal betting was rife. The local “SP” (Starting Price) bookmaker was generally found at a table at the local pub holding bets every Saturday
- Despite being illegal until 1980, sports betting has a rich and colorful history dating back to before the federation and has always been big business. The majority of early sports betting was based on head to head sporting outcomes in popular events such as Rugby League or Australian Rules Football matches.
If matches were expected to be lopsided contents, bookmakers could offer a handicap or “goals in” to stimulate betting activity. This was the forerunner to what is now known as “line betting”.
- The invention of the Internet has led to an explosion of betting worldwide. Doing the form on horse racing has never been easier, with countless websites dedicated to race reviews, previews, and barrier trials. Punters can now access all the information they need from the comfort of their lounge room or through their smartphone. Online betting accounts can be opened, odds compared and bets placed within seconds.
- The rise of Internet betting has led to a revolution in betting and bet types. For years the horse racing industry had stagnated with a standard offering of win and place betting as well as a handful of exotic bet types (quinella, trifecta, and quadrella). In recent years the offering has expanded to include bet types such as Favourite vs The Field, Margin Betting, Jockey Challenge, and Multi Bets.
It is in Sports betting where the most growth has been. Punters are now spoiled for choice with numerous types of betting markets including margin betting, game totals, best player, hi run-scorer, most wickets, and many more “future” betting propositions. Multi bets are common and the introduction of the “same game” multis is the most recent trend.