What Are Asian Handicap Betting Odds?

You may have heard of or seen online Asian handicap betting odds, but what exactly are they? Let’s take a quick look!


When people think of Asian handicap betting odds, they typically think of sports betting in Japan. But the concept originated in the UK back in the 1800s and was later picked up and implemented in other parts of Asia, including Japan, where it is commonly referred to as ‘ukiyo’, or ‘consecutive numbering system’. It was originally designed to combat the ‘banking’ system that was heavily utilized by the British Racing Establishment at the time – a practice that continues today in certain circles. Essentially, the Asian handicap is based on the premise that there’s no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to horse racing, and that the more you bet, the more you’ll probably win. Some people even use this concept when gambling on other types of racing events, like greyhound or dog racing, where the premise is essentially the same.

Numbers & Letters

If you’re playing in Japan, then the most popular format is to use Japanese characters to represent each winning bet or wager. For example, a 10-4 (Japanese: 十四) is a single digit number that sounds like ‘shi’ (ひ). Similarly, an ‘asu’ (あす) represents a ‘double digit’ number in Japanese. When you add the numbers in this way, they typically add up to around 11, which in Japanese culture means ‘good fortune’ or ‘happiness’. These numbers and letters are commonly used to create a ‘balance’ or even-steven format in which winning bets are evened out. In this case, a wager of 2,000 yen (Japanese: 万円) on a horse that wins would result in around 2,100 yen being returned to the player. In this way, the numbers and letters can be used to describe different types of wagers and the outcomes.

Hangul & Hanzi

Traditional Asian betting systems also include using Korean or Chinese characters to represent each winning wager (commonly referred to as ‘hanzi’ or ‘korean’) or each winning bet (‘hangul’). These characters are typically placed in a square or circle shape to make meaning clear when viewed from above. While squares may refer to pure luck, as they are repeatedly drawn, the circle is associated with good fortune in Korean culture. Each character is also associated with different meanings based on the context in which it is used. For example, ‘gong’ (共) in Korean means ‘we’. When used in reference to a horse, it means the horse will most likely run in harness with another horse or will be competing as a team.


As mentioned, the Asian handicap is often applied in Japan to sports betting. But it was first used in the UK in the 1800s as a way of encouraging people to come back after losing a game. At the time, the UK had a high rate of bankruptcy and the concept of ‘making money from money’ appealed to gamblers. The British aristocracy also used the method of encouraging their children to gamble. They would give each child a bank book with a £10,000 bank deposit and tell them to place a bet on whatever they wanted each Saturday afternoon. If their horse won, the child would get the winnings in the form of a prize money. The intention was to teach the children to become independent, responsible adults and to allow them to grow up with an appreciation for the ‘pros’ of gambling.

Current Status In Japan

Although most countries have adopted some form of the Asian handicap, Japan is still the only country that completely implements it. This is mainly down to the popularity of the method in that country and the fact that it is easy to verify the accuracy of each bet. In addition to this, there are certain nuances in the culture that make it easier to apply and understand. For example, when people lose in Japan, they often stick around to try and win back the money they’ve lost. They also like to keep playing until they’re bankrupt, as the practice brings them pleasure and allows them to socialize with other players. Lastly, in the UK and other parts of Europe where it is commonly used, the Asian handicap is applied to racing events that are limited to three or more races. In Japan, however, due to the size and scope of the country, all racing events (excluding parades) are considered ‘handicapped’ and are evened out using the Asian system.

Future Of The Asian Handicap

Even though the Asian handicap is used more as a form of nostalgia in some circles, it has not disappeared from the sports betting world. In fact, it has made its way online, where it is sometimes referred to as the ‘Japanese punt’. This is largely thanks to the fact that it is an easy way for people to verify their winning bets and keep track of their earnings. These technologies have also made it much easier for people to apply the method to other sports, such as American Football and Basketball. The future of the Asian handicap looks pretty bright, especially given how popular it is with the millennials that grew up playing on mobile phones!