History of Betting on Horse Racing in the UK

Evidences are also found that suggest that horse racing had been around since 3500-4000 BC, the time when horses were first domesticated in Central Asia. (Photo credit: © Martin Applegate | Dreamstime.com)

Horse racing has a very long history. It is said that chariot racing used to be very famous part of Olympic Games in ancient Greece, the origins of which date back to 510 BC. Even in the Roman times, it was popular during religious festivals and celebrations.

Evidences are also found that suggest that horse racing had been around since 3500-4000 BC, the time when horses were first domesticated in Central Asia. Now after so many years later, horse racing has become one of the most popular sports in the UK, so much so that it has become a big source of revenue for the UK economy.

It is very hard to pin down an exact time for the beginning of horse racing in the UK. However, the horse racing events began formally during Henry II reign. But it was during the reign of King James I when horse racing really came to the fore in British culture. He established a royal resort in the town of New market and a castle, and then started horse racing which then happened in other parts of the country as well like Croydon, Yorkshire and Enfield.

However, the popularity of the sports really took off during the reign of Queen Anne, resembling the shape of horse racing as it is today. She envisioned a major racecourse in 1711 at Ascot. It had happened that one day while riding near Windsor Castle, Queen Anne had desired to build an area “for horses to gallop at full stretch”. Therefore, the Royal Ascot festival’s opening race, the Queen Anne Stakes, is fondly named after her name for mainstreaming horse racing in the British sports culture.

After the 1,000 Guineas stakes race, five classic races- namely S.t Leger Stakes, Epsom Oaks, Epsom Derby, 2000 Guineas Stakes and 1,000 Guineas Stakes- were established in Britain. Today, these races are recognized as top tier flat races of the country.

In terms of regulation, the 1928 Race Betting Act passed by Winston Churchill is a very famous one which was intended to control illegal betting operations. This legislation meant that government could now tax and control the betting operations. It was also a way of making betting more legitimate in the country.

The 1961 Betting Levy Act is also an important legislation in that bookmakers could start their betting shops now and run their betting operations out of the race track. It was also significant because bookmakers were obligated to pay now a certain levy tax on the profits they would make. This law made it far easier for people to access and participates in sports betting activities.

Online betting began in 1996 when the first online betting site named as Inter tops was started. This marked a whole new change in how betting would be conducted around the world. In a short span of time, huge number of betting sites sprung up around the world. In the UK, the online betting on horse racing is considered to be one of the most popular and profitable for the betting companies. If you are someone who has a keen interest in the horse racing history, then Grand National betting is what you must also be interested in, which you can enjoy with full trust.

The English betting on horse racing history goes a long way back. The evolution of the sports betting to its current form passes through various time periods, legislations and innovations. Today, it is considered to be one of the most popular in the UK.