Sports betting is on the increase in Australia, perhaps due to the rising use of smartphones and the availability of apps. Horse racing may not be the nation’s most popular sport, but it is by far the nation’s favourite to place a bet on. Recent statistics tell the story of Australia’s sports habits, including what they watch and what they interact with.
A breakdown of the Australian market shows that the infamous ‘pokies’ (electronic machines known to the rest of the world as ‘slots’) are the most popular forms of gaming action. Texas Hold’em poker and other casino table games represent a small amount of the market, despite the prominence of successful Aussie players like Joe Hachem high-rolling their way to the top of the crowd. However, online gaming is the fastest-growing sector at the moment.
Horse racing represents a massive 50.9% of the Australian betting market (this includes all bets taken on events and sports, but not on pokies and casinos), according to recent data. To put this into perspective, according to Racing.com, Aussies wagered close to $16 billion on races in 2015/16, which is nowhere near as much as the amount spent annually on the pokies, but still represents a significant contribution to the gaming economy.
The first sanctioned horse racing event was held at Hyde Park, Sydney in 1810. Before that, horse racing was already gaining favour as an informal pastime and event. Now there are 360 registered racetracks around Australia, and only the USA has more horses starting in races each year. With such a rich history, it’s no surprise horse racing has gained such massive popularity.
Most of our races are on the flat, but Victoria and South Australia are home to great fences and hurdles events. Then there’s the Melbourne Cup, which is much loved across the nation and has one of the largest prize pools in thoroughbred racing.
Horse racing is only the third most attended spectator sport in the country, behind Australian rules football and rugby league. Around two million fans enjoy a day out at the races each year, which is a huge number, but this is not as many as the over six million a year who attend Australian rules football. Yet, despite being only the third most popular sport to watch, horse racing is the most popular sport to bet on—Aussie’s just can’t get enough of it!
Greyhound racing is also a popular choice, representing 12.5% of bets, while harness racing is just behind with 11.4%. Sports betting accounts for only 25% of this market, with AFL and rugby league dominating the percentages. All other sports, including tennis, cricket, basketball, netball, swimming, cycling, football and more, represented only 10.7% of the betting market, collectively.
It’s clear to see that Aussies like a good race. Not only that, but they like to take a pick on their favourite competitor. Horse racing is the third most popular spectator sport across the whole country, but it is the most popular sport for the population to place bets on. Horse racing has stolen the show!