The horse racing industry prepares to enter 2022 with renewed optimism. After three very complicated years, the sector has received impulses that could be decisive in overcoming the setbacks of 2019, when it suffered a strong attack by animal activists and the covid-19 pandemic broke out, which conditioned the entire year of 2020 and 2021 .
In the United States, the value of the racing market fell from US$ 5.25 billion in 2018 to US$ 4.94 billion in 2019 and US$ 3.44 billion in 2020, but the projection of the Statista portal for the year 2021 already pointed to an increase of up to US$ 3.52 billion. A rise that, among other factors, follows the growth of the sports betting market, a phenomenon that is also registered here in the UK and all over the world.
Betting on horse races has now become routine for millions. And the bookmakers market adds new value to an activity that dates back to the 12th century and became popular in the New World from the 17th century onwards, with the creation of the first courses on Long Island. Today, any Brit can follow a live horse race over the internet and place their bets.
At the same time, more and more sportsmen and other famous people are surrendering to the phenomenon of betting on horses. Footballer Antoine Griezmann and coach Carlo Ancelotti, Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc, former basketball player Tony Parker and pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie are some of the world-renowned sportsmen who have publicly confessed their passion for horse racing. And an active footballer, Argentine Javier Pastore, even created a team in blue colors with a white star, white sleeves with blue stars and a blue helmet.
The market is grateful and, after three years in decline, looks for signs of a promising future. The public has returned to the stands on the slopes in classic markets, such as the British and the US. Horse racing betting continues to gain in popularity, a trend based on the emotion and uncertainty that marks the big events of these races. And new tools that combine economics and technology, such as NFT, add extra strength. But we'll talk about this later.
Having a reference helps to better understand the whole context of this sport of horse racing. In the United Kingdom we have a good reference: the North American market, which was already showing its strength in the late nineteenth century. In 1890, the United States had 314 horse racing tracks. Four years later, the American Jockey Club was founded.
In the twentieth century, this sport suffered a strong shake. Horse betting was not outlawed, but many states outlawed 'bookmaking', making it impossible to register bets – and even registries could not pay the winners. But quickly a solution was created and the horse racing market continued to flourish until World War II.
Even during the Great Depression the sport enjoyed high popularity. In a time of great economic downturn, horse racing betting was one of the good ways for the lower classes to earn an income.
With Nazi Germany preparing for war, the United States stopped on November 1, 1938. Two days earlier, a young Orson Welles had created panic with his broadcast of the "War of the Worlds" with a fictional extraterrestrial attack. On that 1st of November 1938, the whole country needed an entertainment, to breathe between a fictional war and the beginning of World War II. And the whole country stopped to watch the duel between two horses, Seabiscuit and War Admiral.
Two horses that were going to run 40 miles (64.73 kilometers) in Baltimore, in a race with enormous symbolism. Seabiscuit was Cinderella, a horse that represented the people's dream, the representative of the East Coast; War Admiral was the horse of the aristocracy, the chronic favorite, the representative of the West Coast.
The duel was prepared in the media for weeks, becoming one of the most memorable sporting events of the first half of the 20th century. The radio broadcast would have gathered more than 40 million viewers around the world. More than 40,000 people gathered at the Baltimore track to watch this race. The victory of Seabiscuit, who set a new record in Baltimore, has been immortalized in the history of this sport.
The economic crises and the symbolism of races like the one in Baltimore proved fundamental in the consolidation of betting on horses. The industry has developed in such a way that racehorses have reached astronomical market values. Here are some examples:
● In 1983, Shareef set the record at $40 million
● In 2006, The Green Monkey was sold at auction for $16 million
● In 2011, Totilas cost US$21 million
None of those figures, however, reached the thunderous 2000 mark, with the Fusaichi Pegasus selling for $70 million. A high-risk gamble that largely paid off, with Fusaichi Pegasus winning 6 of the 9 races in which he participated. A successful career for a horse that 'retired' at the end of 2020.
And it wasn't just the value of racehorses soaring. With the professionalization of the industry, this entire economic sector started to generate value. According to a study by the American Horse Council, equine sports contribute $39 billion of direct economic impact, in addition to having created 1.4 million jobs in the United States alone.
In the world of sports betting, horse racing soon established itself as one of the markets with the most attractive odds. With the growth of the gaming industry, nowadays any gambler can make their guesses on a live horse race.
We can use as an example one of the main bookmakers in Europe, which also operates in the British market. At Betsson, horse racing presents itself as one of the most dynamic markets, with odds slightly above the market average.
With Betsson horses, the bettor also has the facility to have the markets divided into three categories: canter, jump and trot. This bookmaker, one of the oldest in the sector, also offers vast geographic coverage, following horse races in countries such as the United States, Chile, France, United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, Belgium and Uruguay . The bettor can also follow a live horse race through the brand's platform.
Following a live horse race is now a thing of the past. The technology has evolved to the point that this year 2019 a horse racing video game was launched in NFT that took the online environment by storm. Follow us, we will explain all this.
An NFT is a digital representation of something. In the case of the video game Zed Run, in the races are NFT horses. Do you remember collecting stickers of famous footballers to complete your albums? Technology has turned these collectibles into digital stickers and in this digital environment the stickers are called NFT (non-fungible token). NFT is presented as a new technological revolution and values are skyrocketing.
Now you wonder what relationship horse racing has to this, right? Because in this video game the races are made with NFT horses, which can be exchanged like a 'real' horse. As a Zed Run player, you can also breed the horses and then sell that NFT to other players to put those horses in the races.
In September, it was reported that an NFT horse was traded for over $125,000. And the trend is that the values continue to rise, up to the millions, following the continuous popularization of this videogame in particular and the entire NFT market. Suffice it to note that in July, in a round of financing, the company that launched Zed Run collected US$ 20 million.
Through this technological development, 'original' horse racing also gained new vigor. The younger generations, more connected to this entire online environment, are curious and want to know more about the origins and current events of horse racing. At the same time, video games allow bettors to test out new strategies before filling out a more 'real' betting slip at a bookmaker that follows this sport, such as betsson.
The biggest winner is always whoever played for the winning guess, but horse racing betting benefits this entire industry, starting with promoters and ending with gamblers in general, not forgetting stud farms, jockeys and fans.
Let's start with the prosecutors. It's true that bets can be placed live, but the real thrill of horse racing is experienced in the stands at the tracks. Betting has always followed this sport and some of the biggest tracks, mainly in the United States, have turned into real casinos, with slot machines, poker tables, blackjack and bingo, among many other games. But always with horse racing as the main attraction.
For the various players involved, such as studs, trainers and jockeys, horse betting online, such as Betsson, horse racing, helps make the sport even more popular. This values the entire industry, as already demonstrated when we mentioned the astronomical values achieved by top horses.
With this increase in promotion, fans also benefit, as the main horse races become big events, lived with maximum emotion. And to keep up with this popularity, bookmakers have to invest in promotions and offers, which will benefit bettors.
All this combination of factors suggests a promising future for this industry, with advantages for everyone involved. Yes, it is true that with the pandemic the sector registered a drop in economic indicators, but it is necessary to remember that covid-19 caused changes in society whose effects will gain dimension over time. Due to the confinements, people have become used to spending more time online, becoming more familiar with streaming sports events, online sports betting and new technological concepts.
For all these reasons, after three years of shock, horse racing looks to the future with renewed optimism. Good news for the UK, which has a prominent sector in this industry and at Betsson, horse racing is a house of reference.