Nobody really knows when the first horse race actually took place (No doubt it was probably between two friends on horseback). However, the pastime of horse racing as a sport and betting event is dated back to the early 1800’s, where it was steeped in the culture and tradition of England. The first bookmakers at this time were strong-headed individuals who brought bettors together on a race by race basis. Oftentimes, since there was no regulatory body, cheating from both sides of the table was a common occurrence.
To make horse racing more of a credible activity, the Frenchman, Pierre Oller, created a machine that was capable of organizing a betting pool which enabled multiple bettors to bet on a group of horses prepped to race. It became highly popular and began to be used at large-scale horse races, thereby increasing the size of the auction pools. With this increase in popularity, Oller’s machine developed a nickname, called “mutuels” (Hence the origin of the modern-day used term, pari-mutuel). Pari-mutuels are the most common mode of betting at online sportsbooks and horse tracks, which these days are thriving better than their land-based bookmaking ancestors.
The way pari-mutuels work has not changed much since their beginning in France. A large number of bettors are grouped together to wager on a group of horses scheduled to race. The bettors who pick the right horse or horses get paid according to the “horses odds” and the bettors wager size. All winning bettors are initially paid out 25 units for every $2 wagered. The original wager is paid out in addition to the units, which are valued by corresponding them to the winning horse’s odds. Individual horse odds are calculated by tabulating the percentage of bettor votes going towards each horse. Payouts correspond to these odds, which the sportsbook does not interfere with since all the money being paid out to bettors comes from the pool and not the casino or sportsbook.
Bookmaking for horse races has come a long way since its humble beginnings. These days, electronic scoreboards (tote boards) light up at the tracks, displaying everything from race results, payoffs, climate stats and jockey information. And even with the advent of online casinos and sportsbooks, horse racing continues to thrive in countries throughout the world.