In 1996, the India Supreme Court ruled that wagering on horse races is a game of skill, not just luck, and as such does not constitute an illegal form of “gambling” under the 1888 Police Act nor the 1930 Gaming Act. Since this ruling, race popularity in India has exploded to a level previously unprecedented.
Today there are five “Turf Authorities of India” that organise horse racing events at nine racecourses located around the country, complete with their own pari-mutuel wagering stations and trackside bookmakers. There are also several off-course and inter-track betting centres in most states that offer live televised coverage of the contests and accept bets over the counter.
Because horse racing is a legal and heavily regulated industry, no online bookmakers are willing to accept action on Indian tracks. However, as you’ll learn in this article there are many great opportunities for Indians to bet international horse races online using rupee betting sites such as www.bet365.com.
Online Horse Race Betting in India
Only the state of Sikkim offers legal online gambling licenses and to date has not issued any for horse racing. Therefore, it is not yet possible to wager via the Internet on horse races conducted within India.
The Turf Authorities zealously guard their hard-won right to offer pari-mutuel betting at their race courses and off-course centres. They tolerate the sports betting sites. For the time being, they do not want to run afoul of laws that may not strictly prohibit Internet gambling, but might be interpreted by the current government as declaring online betting illegal.
Bettors, on the other hand, have broader rights. Horse Race betting is a skill and therefore not subject to gambling laws. Likewise, to the best of our knowledge, there are no laws prohibiting individuals from placing horse racing bets with online bookmakers based abroad. From America’s Kentucky Derby to England’s St. Leger Stakes and even the Japan Cup, there are literally thousands of opportunities for Indian residents to bet on their favourite sport via the web.
Horse Race Betting Sites
While there are not any reputable online betting sites that offer odds for races at Indian tracks, you will find horse betting options daily from around the world. We will continue to search for a betting sites that allows you to bet on races at Indian race tracks so check back for updates.
www.bet365.com has made it especially easy for Indian punters to get in on international horse racing action. They accept deposits and make payouts in Indian Rupees and allow online betting accounts to be set up from addresses in any state in India. Look for the section called “racebook” or “horse racing” where pull-down menus list a vast array of markets. Most of them concentrate on events held in the U.K. and U.S., but markets can be found for tracks located in other areas, too, and the web pages are chock full of information on breeding and form, track conditions, jockeys, trainers, and every aspect of horses and races a handicapper might need to make a well-educated wager.
One other exciting aspect of horse race betting online is 24/7 action with virtual racing. Sites such as www.williamhill.com have simulated racecourses with contests so real that it is almost impossible to know that the video-like displays are not feeds direct from the track. New races start every few minutes, making this a great way to test out betting strategies and hone one’s handicapping skills.
Best Online Racebook for Indians
Bet365 would get our nod as the best website for Indians to bet horses online, if it wasn’t for their lack of live stream coverage. They do offer a large number of race streams but many of their promos are on races televised in the UK. If you can get the streams elsewhere, or don’t need to view the race online – no doubt this is betting site that offers Indians the most value.
Bet365 has been in business since 1974, has over 4 million customers in 200 different countries and a support staff about 1,000 employees. When betting horses with Bet365 you’re not dealing with some run-of-the-mill betting site, but rather are wagering with the UK’s 7th largest private company which is owned by the Coates family (the same family who owns the English Premier League football club Stoke City F.C.). The good news is Bet365 offers Indian Rupee (INR) as one of their currency options, and also allows players to register an account with their Indian home address. Although they’re based in the United Kingdom, everything is set up to have the same feel as if you wagering with a bookmaker based in India.
At Bet365 there is a plethora of promotions available. These include the ability to get a free bet each time you successfully back winners with odds 4/1 or greater on certain tracks. If your free bet wins at odds 4/1 or greater you’ll get another free bet – and this continues ongoing. They also offer the guaranteed best odds. If you place a bet on an early line and the SP comes out larger, you’ll be paid the SP. This lists only some of the promotions available, to learn about other promos and how can get up to Rs. 2500 free when making your first deposit visit www.bet365.com.
Betting Live In India
Again, as we’ve already established, wagering on horse races taking place in India is always done live and in person. Whether bets are placed on the Tote or with a bookmaker, trackside or off-course, the types of wagers accepted for Indian horse racing are more or less standardised. The following list includes all of the most common types of bets that can be made.
Win – A wager made on a specific selection to be the Winner of a particular race; a dividend is paid only if the horse finishes first. The minimum bet unit on the Tote is Rs 10.
Place – This wager requires the selection to finish among the 1st, 2nd or 3rd placed horses in a single race when there are 8-11 runners. If there are fewer runners, it pays only for finishing first or second. If there are more runners, a successful 4th placed horse will also pay a dividend.
Shp – Also known as “Second Horse Pool,” this bet nominates a specific horse to come in 2nd (runner-up) in a particular race. The wager loses if the horse wins the race or else comes in third or worse.
Forecast – Two selections are bet in combination to be the 1st and 2nd placed finishers in a single race in the order selected.
Quinella – Two selections are bet in combination to be the 1st and 2nd placed finishers in a single race in either order.
Jodi – Newly introduced and not yet widely available, this wager is a Win bet on a combination of two horses in a single race. If either of the two designated horses is successful, a dividend is paid. The minimum bet unit on the Tote is Rs 10. The winning amount will be printed on the ticket.
Bar Bet – This new form of wager, initially introduced by RWITC, is a bet that any horse other than the designated favourite will win. In other words, it is a bet on the favourite to lose. As long as any other horse wins the race, a dividend is paid.
Tanala – Three selections are bet in combination to be the 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed finishers in a single race in the order selected. If the winner is correctly identified, but the second and third choices reverse their places, a consolation dividend is awarded.
Treble – This wager requires selecting all of the Winners of three different races. There is no consolation dividend awarded if only one or two selections are correct.
Jackpot – This wager requires selecting all of the Winners of five different races. There is a consolation dividend if the first four winners are correctly identified but the selection for the last leg fails.
Super Jackpot – This wager requires selecting all of the Winners of six different races. There is a consolation dividend if the first five winners are correctly identified but the selection for the last leg fails.
Kenchi – This wager requires selecting the Winners in a minimum of three or a maximum of five races. If at least two of the horses win, a dividend is paid.
Accumulator – This is a multi-race bet. Selections are made on one horse in each of 2-6 different races to Win or Place. If the first selection is successful, the winnings roll over automatically to the next selection. As long as selections are successful, the rollovers continue until all selections pay out. However, if even one selection is incorrect, the entire wager loses.
Pools Betting vs. Fixed Odds
The totalisator or –Tote– is a computerised form of pool betting. It aggregates all of the wagers made in a given race or combination of races, deducts taxes and fees, and divides the proceeds among the winners as their dividend or payout.
In this sense, the odds offered are “variable.” Before betting closes and the race begins, the odds will fluctuate up or down, depending on how many wagers are made and at what value. At any given moment, the current price (odds) can be seen on a large computerised display known as the Tote board.
Each Club has set up hundreds of automated Tote betting booths at the racecourses where bets can be placed. It is also possible to wager by going to a manned Tote window, buying a cash voucher from a Tote Service Outlet, or calling over the Tote’s trackside roving operator who carries a hand-held computer.
Some of the Clubs also operate off-course betting centres where Tote wagers can be made while watching the televised races. All of the Tote bets that are made, no matter through which facility, become part of the same shared pool.
Bookmakers, on the other hand, tend to offer “fixed odds.” It is like making a contract to get paid at a specified rate if the wager succeeds. An example would be picking a horse to Win at 5/1 odds. For every Rupee wagered, five will be won if successful. When betting on a horse in this way, regardless of the rising or falling odds, the bettor is assured of receiving the odds for which the bet was booked.
Obviously, there is some risk involved in either method of betting. A pools wager on the Tote at 5/1 might be worth only 4/1 or 3/1 by the time all of the bets are in. Conversely, a fixed wager at 5/1 will never deliver more than 5/1, even if the odds subsequently go up to 6/1 or 7/1 before the betting closes. For this reason, some bookmakers offer a “starting price” or so-called “SP odds.” The contract is for whatever the prevailing odds are when the betting closes, which is usually quite close to the Tote odds.
Of course, the Clubs are in competition with the bookmakers for customers’ wagers, so several wrinkles have been added to induce more Tote betting. Foremost among these is “fixed Tote odds.” In other words, bettors now have the option to wager at fixed odds with the Tote as a “computerised bookmaker.” The winning amount is guaranteed at the odds prevailing at the time one makes the wager, which will be printed on the ticket.
Another form of incentive provided by clubs is the so-called “bumper prize.” This is a reward in addition to the dividend paid for a successful Jackpot or Super Jackpot. A good example of this was a Mercedes automobile recently offered by the RWITC on Indian Derby Day.
An additional consideration when choosing whether to wager with the Tote or the bookmakers is the cost of betting. As noted in the section above, most Tote bets start at Rs 10. They can be as little as Rs 2. Bookmakers, on the other hand, tend to require bets of at least Rs 50. What’s more, Government Taxes charged for Tote bets are often half as much as those applied to bookmakers’ tickets.
Lastly, it is the responsibility of the bettor to know what the rules are regarding payouts. If a horse withdraws prior to the race or there is a disqualification, it can greatly affect the outcome and the odds. Knowing what procedures are in place for dead heat payoffs is important, too, in order to avoid unpleasant surprises at the pay window.
If you’re a fan of horse racing in India you can follow it at www.indiarace.com.
Translations: भारत में घुडदौड