UK Horse Racing Industry – Betting Popularity, Apps & Brexit

Horse racing betting isn’t showing any signs of slowing down in popularity among UK punters. Whether they’re shrewd bettors, casual bettors, or are new to the racing scene, multiple gambling platforms makes it easy for punters to stay on top of all the action, with none so easy as online betting and mobile betting apps.

It doesn’t matter if they’re at the races, watching them on TV at home, or streaming them live from their favourite digital sportsbook, online and mobile in-play betting makes it easy for bettors to place their wagers as they follow along with the action in real time. 

Horse racing remains the most popular sport to bet on in the UK 

Horse racing has long been nicknamed the “Sport of Kings” and it has maintained its popularity for centuries, long before the birth of the Internet and the smartphone. Still now in 2019, it remains a popular sport to bet on among UK punters and beyond and shows no signs of slowing down, even outpacing football.

Iconic racing events like the Cheltenham Festival, eGrand National, EpsomDerby, Glorious Goodwood and Royal Ascot are just some of the top events on the horseracing calendar that attract huge betting attention from fans all over the world. 

In fact, 2018 gambling statistics compiled by Beating Betting, found that of the people in the UK aged 18-54 whom they surveyed, horse racing easily took the top spot (97.4%) as the most popular sport to bet on. Fans of horse racing were also most likely to believe that they were profitable bettors and were the most likely to place bets out of all TV sports audiences (Boxing, Tennis, Football, Golf, Formula 1, Cricket, Other).  

Additionally, according to Statista, the annual turnover of off course horse racing betting in Great Britain from April 2017 to March 2018 amounted to approximately 4.3 billion pounds. 

How has horse racing betting popularity continued to thrive even to this day? Online and mobile betting has arguably played a significant role in its success as well in the popularity of sports betting as a whole.

In-play mobile betting has evolved the horse racing betting app scene 

In-play betting, which is also known as in-running or live betting, is betting while the event is actually taking place. In the case of horse racing, it refers to betting on a horserace while it is being run. 

Whilst this form of betting isn’t anything new, it evolved digitally in 2017 when online bookmakers began to embrace “big data” and introduced in-running betting apps. 


This mobile technology for racing betting meant that racing fans had the ability to place bets with a bookmaker on their mobile phone as the race was taking place. This was made possible through advances in GPS technology as well as data transmission times, which altered the betting landscape for both casual gamblers and hardcore punters. 

The inclusion of big data has made it possible for punters to obtain detailed information on post-race information, including sectional times within races, such as: 

·      How much ground each horse has covered

·      The horses stride length and pattern

·      How quickly the horse can clear an obstacle over jumps

·      Every runners speed at different stages

·      Etc.

Nowadays, all the top bookmakers in the UK have horse racing betting apps for the major mobile operating systems, Android and iOS, allowing them to appeal to a much larger number of punters. Most of the big-name bookies also offer digital in-play (and even live-streaming) betting options, including Coral, Ladbrokes, Betfair, Paddy Power, 888Sport and so on.  

Ultimately, although in-play betting can take place in betting shops and over the phone, it has become a predominantly online and mobile activity, with bets being made via the internet using a betting exchange, the bookmaker’s website or through a bookmaker’s app. 

A rise in betting tech may not be enough to maintain horse racing betting popularity post Brexit 

In spite of how far sports betting has come technology-wise, some worry that the ever-impending Brexit could derail the UK and Ireland’s over 5.2-billion-pound horse racing industry. 

If a hard (no-deal) Brexit should occur, this could result in serious consequences for both the British and Irish horse racing industries. The reason is that thoroughbred racing is big business in both countries and provides jobs for over 32,000 people, adding to the combined 5.3 billion pounds a year to both economies.

The problem is that for years, the two sectors have essentially operated as one. Currently, an estimated 10,000 horses move freely between the UK and Ireland each year. This is made possible through a tripartite agreement that was signed into EU law back in the 1960’s between the two countries and France.

The UK depends on Ireland to supply the racehorses it requires to operate its horse racing industry while Ireland needs the UK to buy its horses. Therefore, it is essential for the industry to maintain the free movement of thoroughbreds within Europe. If free movement isn’t allowed after Brexit and quarantines and tariffs become an issue, this sudden sharp rise in costs could prove disastrous for the British and Irish horseracing industry. This, in turn, would no doubt negatively impact the horse racing betting industry as well. 

For now, the UK and Irish horse racing industries can only wait with baited breath in hopes that Brussels will accept the Brexit three-month extension and that a good deal will eventually come about. 

That being said, horse racing betting continues to be one of the most popular forms of gambling in the UK with no signs of slowing down. Whether or not Brexit will change this remains to be seen. For now, ever-improving betting tech and app features add to the gambling thrills of today’s punters who are eager to place their wagers on their selections in the very prosperous racing market.

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