Gambling on greyhound racing is one of the most popular gambling pastimes in Ireland but the racing has its origins in ‘Coursing ‘, with dogs chasing hares or rabbits, in open fields.
The modern form of the sport of greyhound racing, on circular or oval tracks, was developed with the invention of the artificial hare in 1912 by Owen Patrick Smith. In 1926, an American businessman, Charles Munn teamed up with a Canadian, Brigadier General Critchley to launch the Greyhound Racing Association in Britain, with the first meeting at Manchester’s Belle Vue Stadium. By the end of 1927, there were 40 tracks operating in towns and cities all over the UK providing greyhound gambling opportunities in many areas.
Greyhound racing and gambling on greyhounds became very popular with the working class communities with the tracks centrally located in the urban areas, and evening meetings making for access easy after work. Highest attendances in the UK were achieved following the Second World War, with 34 million paying spectators in 1946.
On 18th April 1927, the first greyhound track in Ireland was opened at Celtic Park, Belfast, followed one month later by the track at Shelbourne Park, Dublin. Later in the year, the Harold’s Cross track was opened in Dublin and the Dunmore Stadium in Belfast. The track in Cork was opened the following year. There are now 17 greyhound tracks in the Republic and 3 in Northern Ireland providing gambling for the Irish public. Greyhound racing in the republic of Ireland is regulated by the Irish Greyhound Board, which was established by the Irish Government in 1958. The three tracks in Northern Ireland are still regulated by the original Irish Coursing Club.
Greyhound racing attendance suffered a decline in the UK during the 1960’s, following the 1960 Betting and Gaming Act, which allowed off-course gambling. This allowed the public to gamble on greyhounds without going to the location itself but fortunately this trend has now been reversed to a degree by a combination of commercial sponsorship, some television coverage and the abolition of on-course betting tax. Current attendances in the UK are estimated to be 3.2 million, with over 5,750 meetings at the 27 tracks. Licensed greyhound racing in the UK is now regulated by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain ( GBGB ), who set standards for race course facilities, trainer’s kennels, greyhound welfare and of course the most contentious issue in the sport which is the retirement of greyhounds. Greyhounds can live to 14 years old, but their normal racing age is 18 months to 3 years. With as many as 10,000 greyhounds registered for racing every year in the UK, re-homing of dogs after their racing career is a major concern for the sport.
Gambling on greyhounds has always been a key ingredient in the popularity of racing, both with on-course bookmakers and the Totalisator ( Tote ), which was first introduced in the UK in 1930. The ‘Tote’ remains the most popular form of gambling with a turnover of approximately £ 75 million in the UK.
Prize money in the UK now tops £ 15 million, with 15,000 registered owners. The most prestigious race is the Greyhound Derby, which has six rounds and attracts 180 entries each year as well as a lot of gambling money. There are two Derby’s in the UK, the Scottish Derby at the Shawfield Stadium in Glasgow, and the English Derby at the Wimbledon track. The third Derby but no less important is held at Shelbourne Park in Dublin, which is also open to British greyhounds. Minimum prize money is £ 50,000. The English Greyhound Derby was first run in 1927, and together with the Irish Greyhound Derby are probably the biggest greyhound events in the world.
Gambling on greyhounds is not restricted to these high profile races as below this level there are Category One races with minimum prize money of £ 12,500, Category Two races (£ 5,000) and Category Three races (£ 1,000). However, the mainstay of greyhound racing at most tracks is ‘ Graded Racing ‘ with variable prize money, but these races can also be watched in Betting Shops on the BAGS or BEGS service. For the online greyhound gambling public some bookmakers will make live transmissions of the race to your computer providing of course that you are gambling on the dog race
In Ireland, the Tote which is a very popular gambling method is operated by the Irish Greyhound Board. All bets are pooled, with a deduction to cover costs, and the remainder of the pool is divided by the number of winning units to calculate a winning premium including a 1 euro stake. Customers therefore are effectively gambling against each other, and not the Bookmaker. Odds fluctuate according to betting patterns and the amount of money bet on each dog. The odds are not related to the prices quoted by the Bookmakers.
The Irish Greyhound Board also operate two gambling Jackpot pools at Shelbourne on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings, and at Harold’s Cross on Monday, Tuesday and Friday evenings.
PICK 6 – on races 5,6,7,8,9 and 10
PICK 4 – on races 7,8,9 and 10
Multiple bets are allowed, and the minimum stake is 1 euro.
There are a variety of ways of gambling on greyhounds which along with the fact that races are every few minutes is what makes it an attractive and sometimes profitable pastime. Some of the possible gambling options are listed here :-
WIN – Select the winner
PLACE – Select first or second
FORCAST – Select first and second in the right order
REVERSE FORCAST – Select first and second in any order
FORCAST ALLWAYS – Select 3 or more, of which 2 must finish first or second in any order TRIO – Select first, second and third in the right order
TRIO ALLWAYS – Select first, second and third in any order