People have been wagering or betting on events for hundreds of years. In Australia the earliest gaming events occurred when the first horse races were conducted at Hyde Park in the early 1800’s.

There are many factors that will influence the result of a race, such as the quality and fitness of the horse, the skill of the driver, the track conditions and distance of the race.
In its strictest sense gambling is the wagering of money or something of material value (referred to as "the stakes") on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods.

Gambling thus requires three elements be present: consideration, chance and prize. The outcome of the wager is often immediate, such as a single roll of dice or a spin of a roulette wheel, but longer time frames are also common, allowing wagers on the outcome of a future sports contest or even an entire sports season.

Types of Gambling

  • Table games
  • Electronic Gaming
    • Poker machines
    • Video Machines
  • Other gambling
    • Bingo
    • Keno

Non-casino gambling games

Gambling games that take place outside of casinos include Bingo, lotteries and scratch cards.
*Although coin tossing isn't usually played in a casino, it has been known to be an official gambling game in some Australian casinos.

Fixed-odds betting

Fixed-odds betting and Pari-mutuel betting frequently occur at many types of sporting events. In addition many bookmakers offer fixed odds on a number of non-sports related outcomes, for example the direction and extent of movement of various financial indices, the winner of television competitions such as Big Brother, and election results. Interactive prediction markets also offer trading on these outcomes, with "shares" of results trading on an open market.

Pari-mutuel betting

One of the most widespread forms of gambling involves betting on horse or greyhound racing. Wagering may take place through pari-mutuel pools, or bookmakers may take bets personally. Pari-mutuel wagers pay off at prices determined by support in the wagering pools, while bookmakers pay off either at the odds offered at the time of accepting the bet; or at the median odds offered by track bookmakers at the time the race started.

Sports betting

Betting on team sports has become an important service industry in many countries. For example, hundreds of thousands people bet on rugby league and AFL results every week.

Arbitrage betting

Arbitrage betting is a theoretically risk-free betting system in which every outcome of an event is bet upon so that a known profit will be made by the bettor upon completion of the event, regardless of the outcome. Arbitrage betting is a combination of the ancient art of arbitrage trading and gambling, which has been made possible by the large numbers of bookmakers in the marketplace, creating occasional opportunities for arbitrage.

Other types of betting

One can also bet with another person that a statement is true or false, or that a specified event will happen (a "back bet") or will not happen (a "lay bet") within a specified time. This occurs in particular when two people have opposing but strongly held views on truth or events. Not only do the parties hope to gain from the bet, they place the bet also to demonstrate their certainty about the issue. Some means of determining the issue at stake must exist. Sometimes the amount bet remains nominal, demonstrating the outcome as one of principle rather than of financial importance.

Betting Exchanges allow consumers to both back and lay at odds of their choice. Similar in some ways to a stock exchange, a bettor may want to back a horse (hoping it will win) or lay a horse (hoping it will lose, effectively acting as bookmaker).

Gambling in NSW

In NSW, betting (wagering) is generally conducted by bookmakers and Tabcorp (license held by TAB Limited).
Bookmakers are persons licensed within NSW to offer betting services at NSW race meetings and via the telephone. Tabcorp is licensed by the NSW Government to conduct totalisator betting at racecourses and off-course through its various retail outlets (cash agencies, telephone and internet betting). Persons in NSW can also place bets via the telephone or internet with corporate wagering operators who operate in other states.

Betting on horse racing usually takes one of the following forms:

Fixed Odds Betting

Fixed Odds betting was previously offered predominately by on-course bookmakers. However in the last 5 years corporate wagering operators and even the TAB have begun offering fixed odds betting. Under Fixed Odds betting the operator offers odds against the chances of each runner winning or running a place in a race. Customers then place a bet on that runner at the odds offered at that time, and the stake of the bet is multiplied by the odds on offer. If successful, the punter receives the resultant amount plus his original stake.

Totalisator Betting

A totalisator is a system used to enable persons to invest money on events or contingencies with a view to successfully predicting specified outcomes of those events or contingencies and to enable the money left after the deduction of commission to be divided and distributed as dividends among those persons who successfully predict those outcomes.

How to pick a horse in a race

There are no fool proof methods of picking a winner, which is half of the fun of making a wager. You will need a combination of knowledge, observation and some old fashioned good luck! Here are some ways to help you decide how to pick a potential winner:

• Favourite: The easiest place to start is the favourite of the race. The favourite is judged as most likely to win the race, and on which the most money has already been bet. The odds on the favourite will be shorter, meaning you will receive less money if it wins.

• Form: Your race book or form guide will tell you all the details of the horses and drivers with a brief commentary on the horses form. The horses’ most recent results or ‘form’ are listed in order of occurrence and are provided to give punters the basic information on which to evaluate past performance. You can also find the form prior to a race meeting on the HRNSW iForm website and other dedicated form websites.

• *please note the horse does not always run as the form predicts, it is to be used as a guide only.

• Driver: There are plenty of talented drivers in NSW who drive at the various race tracks. Some punters like to pick a driver and stick with them for the day.

• Trainer: Like drivers, there are many talented trainers who are more often than not competing for a training premiership. Following the form guide and racing news will help you find out which trainer is ‘in form’.

• The Odds: The favourite with shorter odds if successful will give you a modest return, while the higher the odds (and a lower assessed chance of winning) can give you a much greater return. People like to cheer for the underdog and sometimes it does pay off.

• Track Condition: The condition of the track can influence a horse’s performance. Some horses prefer to run on certain types of tracks e.g. 800m versus 1,000 metre tracks.

• Colours, Names & Numbers: With so many factors influencing the outcome of a race, some people like to play their luck and pick a winner based of the pattern of the driver’s colours. Some may choose an interesting name; while others may pick a sentimental number for example Race 7 number 7.

How to Place the Wager

Betting on horse racing isn’t a complicated procedure. Most often, you place your bet, take your ticket, and tear it up when your bet doesn’t pay off. However, if you’re lucky — or skilled — you get to take your ticket back to the window or bookmaker and collect your winnings. The following list spells out the betting procedure step by step:

With the Totaliser (TAB)

• State the name of the racetrack.

• State what number race you’re betting.

• State the dollar unit of your bet.

• State the type of wager.

• You can bet on a single horse to win or place, or on a combination of horses.

• State the number of the horse or horses you’re betting with.

• Check your ticket before you leave the window

With a Bookmaker

• State the number of the horse or horses you're betting with.

• State the dollar unit of your bet.

• State the type of wager.

• Check your ticket before you leave the stand

Watching the Race

Betting is suspended when the starter releases the field, so be sure to place you bet prior to this time, which will be printed in the race book and displayed on course.
Find a good place to watch the race and look out for the driver colours and saddlecloth colour and number. You can listen to the commentator call the race out loud, and watch on the big screen TV.

After the Race has been run

If you your horse has won the race, you will need to wait for the stewards to announce ‘All Clear’ (after the drivers have paraded past the chief steward on the day and no protests are lodged) before bookmakers and the tote will pay out.
Common Types of Totalisator Betting

• Win: The most popular bet you can have. Simply pick the runner that you think will finish 1st in a race.

• Place: Pick a runner in a race and if your runner finishes 1st, 2nd or 3rd you will collect your place dividend. (Under normal circumstances a 3rd place dividend is only paid in races with eight or more runners).

• An Each Way bet (Win/Place) combines the Win and Place bets. If your runner wins, you will collect both a Win and Place dividend or if your runner finishes 2nd or 3rd you will collect the Place dividend only.

• Quinella: To win the Quinella you are required to correctly select the two runners that finish 1st and 2nd in a race, in any order.

• Exacta: An Exacta requires you to correctly select the two runners that finish 1st and 2nd in a race in the correct order.

• Duet: The Duet requires you to correctly select 2 of the 3 placegetters in any order and is only available on races that have eight or more runners. The Duet will pay three dividends for the following combinations: 1st and 2nd, 1st and 3rd, and 2nd and 3rd.

• Trifecta: The Trifecta requires you to select the runners that will finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd in a race, in the correct finishing order. Flexi betting is also available.

• First 4: The First 4 requires you to select the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th placegetters in the correct finishing order. Available in Flexi betting.

• Double: The Double requires you to correctly select the winners of any two nominated races at the one race meeting e.g. Race 2 winner and Race 3 winner

• Quadrella: A Quaddie requires you to pick four winners from four races nominated by TAB at the one meeting. Available in Flexi betting. The Quaddie for each race meeting is marked in the "Exotic Bet Info" column on Today's and Tomorrow's Racing Schedules on Quaddie legs are marked as QAD.

• Big 6: A BIG 6 requires you to pick six winners from six races nominated by TAB. The races that make up a BIG6 may be at the same race meeting or at different race meetings. There is at least one BIG6 available every week. Available in Flexi betting. Available BIG6s are indicated in the "Exotic Bet Info" column on Today's and Tomorrow's Racing Schedules on

• All Up: A more complex bet which involves parlaying your winnings from one race into one or more other races. To parlay means to create a single bet that links together two or more individual bets and is dependent on all of those bets winning together.

• Betting Exchanges: offer a form of betting where the operator accepts bets from punters on the predicted outcome of a certain contingency (e.g. a horse winning a race) and matches them with bets placed by other punters who select the opposite outcome. In effect the bet is between two individual punters and the operator does not become party to the bet. The operator then extracts a commission from the winnings of the successful punter.

Betting Options

• What is boxing? Available on Quinella, Exacta, Duet and First 4. When you ‘box’ the runners in your bet, you cover all possible combinations for the finishing order.

• What is a multiple bet? Available on Quinella, Exacta, Duet, Doubles, Trifecta, First 4, Quaddie and BIG6. A multiple bet is where you pick more than one runner in each leg of the bet.

• What is Flexi betting? Available on Trifecta, First 4, Quaddie and BIG6. Flexi betting allows you to nominate the total amount you would like to spend on your bet, so you can include as many selections as you like at an outlay that suits your budget. If your bet is successful, you will collect a percentage of the full dividend.

TAB Information

• Scratchings and Late Scratchings: A scratching is when a runner is withdrawn from a race. If a runner is withdrawn after 10am on the morning of the race, this is known as a ‘late scratching’.

• Bets that Contain a Scratching: There are different ways a scratched runner will affect a bet. WIN/PLACE/EACH WAY BETS: if a runner is scratched, all bets placed on that runner will be refunded.

• QUINELLA/EXACTA/DUET/TRIFECTA/FIRST 4: If a runner is scratched, all combination containing that runner will be refunded. Any combinations that do not contain that runner will still be ‘live’.

• RUNNING DOUBLE/DAILY DOUBLE/QUADDIE: Any scratched runner/s will be replaced with a ‘substitute’. The substitute runner will be the favourite in win betting and will be announced by the race caller and/or advised via the TV screens throughout the racecourse. Any bets containing a scratched runner can be cancelled up to the start of the first leg.

• Check Your Ticket: Make sure you check your betting tickets immediately after they have been handled to you by the operator to ensure your bet is correct.

• Cancelling Bets: Bets which do not accurately reflect the bet you wished to place can be cancelled up to two minutes after it has been placed. Tell the operator you would like to cancel the bet and hand them your ticket.

• Payment of totalisator tickets: Tickets sold by the On-Course totalisator may be collected either on-course, or at any off-course TAB outlet, for a period of 12 months. It is also possible to collect tickets sold off-course on the on-course tote.

• Lost and Destroyed Tickets: A claim will only be considered if it is lodged in writing with the head office of TAB within 21 days of the date of the race meeting accompanied by a fee of $11 including GST. Claims should be forwarded:

TAB head office, TAB LTD, GPO Box 4168, Sydney NSW 2001.
Think! About your choices.

Word of Advice

Harness Racing NSW encourages responsible gambling. Make a decision before you start the day on how much money you are willing to spend on wagering.
If you are only beginning your hand at wagering, start small (with bets between $1-$10) and get the hang of things. Make sure you bet the amount you feel you can afford comfortably and don’t spoil your day.

If gambling is a problem for you call NSW Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 or visit