Horse racing in Australia: history and interesting facts

Ray Allen

Horse racing is arguably the most ancient type of gambling not only in Australia but all over the world. Even the Romans were dedicating whole stadiums to watch as people raced in carriages drawn by horses and even placed wagers on their preferred animal.

It seems that the “sport” has aged like fine wine and developed into something ever-so-popular amount the common folk during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to imagine the Australian gambling scene without thinking about horse racing, in fact, it’s the first thing that pops into people’s minds when they hear the word wagering.

In this article, we will talk about several interesting facts connected to both Australia and horse racing. Hopefully, we will uncover some very intriguing stories and showcase information some of you have never heard before.

First Aussie gamblers wagered on horses

The very first forms of wagering in Australia were seen during horse racing events. The settlers mostly came from the British Isles bringing the tradition of placing bets on animals with them.

It’s believed that the very first horse racing events in Australia started sometime in the 19th century, and the very first gambling terminals appeared during the 1890s.

Considering that this was a time when Australia was relatively experiencing an infrastructure, economic and population boom, horse racing gigs were becoming more and more profitable, which is why more of them were appearing all over the country.

It started off as an entertainment form for the common folks but soon grew into a gathering space for well-off and richer citizens of the country.

The first totalisator

In 1913, 12 years after Australia was formally recognized as a “federation” by the British Empire more and more businesses became private. This was the case with horse racing hubs as well. But due to the increased demand owners were struggling to accommodate everybody.

However, thanks to a very clever man by the name of George Julius, the automatic totalisator was implemented on the horse racing hubs which could now accommodate thousands of people at the same time due to automatic calculation of odds.

Thanks to this by the 1970s horse race betting and wagering became the most popular form of gambling in Australia, making thoroughbred racing the most popular sport in Australia alongside Aussie football and rugby.

Australia has the biggest income from gambling

Australia is the #1 country in terms of gambling revenue, which is something either to be very sad or very happy about. The first years when the industry shocked almost everybody involved in gambling was in 2009 when all of the horse racing locations and casinos made nearly $15 billion.

Nowadays, the average income from gambling in Australia is somewhere around $7.3 billion a year.

One of the biggest prize money distributors

Australia is also one of the top three countries in terms of prize money distribution. The only countries it falls behind on are the United States of America and Japan.

Considering the sheer number of tournaments happening in cities like Melbourne and Sydney it’s no surprise that Aussie organizers like to pay their performers as much as possible to continue the trend.

Australia is also one of the most developed countries in terms of mobile gaming with almost every operator catering to the local population coming out with mobile-optimized applications for almost everyday use.