Horse Betting and Sports Betting: What’s the difference?

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Many punters ask the same question what's the difference between betting on horses and on other sports?

Is there a significant difference between the two and are there comparisons?

The article highlights some of these answers by comparing horse and sports betting.

Determining odds

calculating odds Probably one of the biggest differences between horse and sports betting is the way the betting odds are calculated.

In horse racing, the type of bet is called ‘pari-mutuel‘ betting, meaning that the bet is mutual and the odds are established in relation to the amount of punters that wager on a particular horse.

It also reflects the fact that all bettors of a race are competing against each other for the same pool of money.

For sports wagering, the bookmaker sets the odds regardless of the number of people who bet on a particular team or the amount of money involved.

Furthermore, in horse racing there is a much higher level of fixing and manipulation especially with online websites offering a “betting exchange” feature. This means that punters can create their own odds.

This type of gambling carries a high risk of developing a gambling addiction, 10% of bettors who use a betting exchange develop an addiction whereas only 3% of “classic” bettors are at risk.

Horse racing

horse racing The odds are determined using a formula that takes into account the total amount of money that has been bet on a race, the amount that has been bet on each stallion and the percentage of the money that the track or off-track site keeps.

Unlike many other forms of betting, the payouts on horse racing odds usually are based on the final odds for each race, rather than the odds that a bettor received when placing the bet.

For example, someone might bet when the odds are 4-1, but if that horse's odds are 2-1 when the race begins, the bettor will win only half as much money as he or she would have if the odds had not changed.


sports betting For sports, odds are determined by the bookmaker by taking into account various different factors. These factors include:

  • both team statistics including recent performances and favorable situations
  • the fitness of the players like injuries
  • the weather
  • other criteria specific to the sport for example soil type for tennis

All the above elements are taken into consideration by the bookmaker as well as calculation margin of the site, which is the amount of profit a bookmaker receives from each bet placed.

In simple terms, the odds for equestrian racing are based upon the forecast of punters while sports are based on the analysis of the bookie.

Man Vs Animal

From a more “philosophical” point of view another difference is the factors of wagering money on a man and wagering money on an animal.

Placing your trust in a horse to win and in a athlete is different. For example, many times during racing competitions the horse does not run for a number of reasons like:

  • being frightened or unruly at the start
  • starting to gallop in a trotting race
  • refusal to jumping over a fence or obstacle

If the horse eventually becomes a non-runner, this can prove a nightmare for punters who will lose their bet, money and have to chose another winner.

However, players and athletes can sometimes also affect a game or race unpredictably and influence many wagers. For example, on a pitch a player could receive a red card for dangerous or violent behaviour which will influence the outcome of a match or similarly in races a good runner could have a number of false starts and be disqualified.

Common traits

common traits in betting Whether the punter is wagering on sports or horses's, the bettor always comes back to the analyses of previous performances including the following:

  • the statistics of past meetings
  • favorable or unfavorable conditions for certain sports
  • the form of the horse/ participants
  • the weather

In this way wagering on animals or sports is quite similar as all punters must research and choose the winner the same way through an analysis.

Therefore, regular reading of specialized press in the sport you are betting on is very important in order to place a better bet in both cases.

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