What is Run Line Betting?

If you enjoy watching sporting events such as horse racing, you may have heard of run line betting. This is a type of betting where the bettor predicts the order in which the horses will cross the finish line, instead of picking a winner at the end as in standard betting.

While there are similarities between regular sports betting and run line betting, there are also some significant differences. For example, in regular betting, you are making wagers based on the outcome of a single event, while in run line betting you are making predictions about the future outcome of an entire series of events. Further, in regular betting the money is on the balance sheet of the sportsbooks, while in run line betting it is on the balance sheet of the race tracks.

History Of Run Line Betting

The first recorded instance of run line betting was in 1894, when the Belmont Stakes was held at the Belmont Park race track in New York. Following the tradition set by the British in their cricket matches, bettors would place wagers on which horse would cross the finish line first. The practice soon became so popular that it is said the total amount wagered on that day alone reached nearly $1 million, most of it on the eventual winner, Seattle. In 1997 the total amount wagered on that day alone was estimated at over $3 million.

The practice has been very popular in Australia ever since the country became a federation in 1901. The Melbourne Cup is the biggest and most prestigious horse race in the country, and is often referred to as the ‘Aussie Millions.’ It was originally devised as a way of advertising to the people of Australia the fantastic horse breeds that were being developed Down Under. The first ever Melbourne Cup was held in 1880, and is widely regarded as the world’s most beautiful horse race. Following the tradition set by the British in their cricket matches, Australia’s first ever ‘millionaire’ was Jack Robinson, a bookmaker who placed a single wager of $500,000 on the chestnut gelding Man of War.

The Appeal Of Run Line Betting

There are a variety of reasons why people might enjoy run line betting. One of the reasons is that it is very different from regular sports betting. As mentioned previously, in run line betting your wager is on the outcome of an entire series of events, as opposed to placing a bet on the outcome of a single event.

This makes for better entertainment value, as there is always the possibility of a series of unlikely events unfolding which will result in a different outcome from the one you were betting on. A perfect example of this is the 2019 Melbourne Cup, where several horses finished a run close together, resulting in a much longer time for the winner to cross the finish line than expected. Another great example of this is the Kentucky Derby, where the eventual winner, American Pharaoh, was never in the lead, and finished fifth in a photo finish with Audible.

Another great thing about run line betting is the fact that it allows you to make much higher wagers than you would otherwise be allowed to in regular sports betting. This is mainly because there are no restrictions on how much you can wager in run line betting, whereas in most sportsbooks your wager limits are determined by the laws of the land you are betting in. For example, in the UK you are legally restricted to placing bets of £2,000 per day, with certain exceptions (e.g. if you are a new customer) but a savvy bookmaker will be happy to accept your £10,000 bet, which is more than four times the legal limit.

Another great thing about run line betting is that it is not just for entertainment purposes. There are actually serious applications for run line betting, the most popular of which is handicapping, where you use statistics and form to predict the outcome of a series of events. For example, if you know that a particular horse has a good record in races of a certain distance, and you see that another horse is also a consistent speed merchant, you may use this information to make accurate predictions about the ensuing races. If you are indeed correct in your prediction, you will win money.

It should be noted that while some people feel that handicapping is a fine way to wager, there are also some who feel that it is dishonest. Many US states, for example, have laws which prevent people from gambling with ‘house edge’ information. If you are found to have used this information at the expense of another person, you could be prosecuted and fined.

The Risks Of Run Line Betting

Just like any other form of betting, there are risks associated with run line betting. One of the biggest risks is moral hazard. This occurs when people are aware that they are breaking the law, but continue to engage in the behavior because the penalties are relatively mild. For example, in many states in the US if you are found to have used statistical information at the expense of another person you could be fined up to $1,000 or jailed for up to a year. In New York state, however, the penalty is only $500 and/or a year of probation. This example shows that while run line betting is perfectly legal, and you can’t be arrested for placing a single wager, the fine can be quite hefty. It is obvious that the severity of the crime varies from state to state, and even county to county, so if you travel outside your home state you should research the local laws about gambling before placing any bets.

Another great risk associated with run line betting is the issue of unintended consequences. This is where you make a prediction, which turns out to be completely wrong, but in a way that you did not predict. To give an example, let’s say you were betting on the order of the Kentucky Derby. You may have wagered a lot of money on a particular horse, and when that horse wins you may feel that you have been wronged and want to recoup your losses by placing another bet in the next race. So, you tell the bookmaker about your intention to do this, and while your intention is good, the outcome may not be what you actually ended up with.

While all these risks are present in any form of betting, they are higher in run line betting, simply because you are making predictions about the future. It would be great if we could all enjoy the entertainment of sports betting without any risks, but that is not how life works. People will always be a bit more reckless when betting on the future, as opposed to betting on the outcome of the present event. It is, however, your responsibility as a gambler to understand these risks and take the appropriate measures to mitigate them.

How Does Run Line Betting Work?

When placing a bet on a sporting event using run line betting, you are placing a bet on the outcome of an entire series of events as opposed to the outcome of a single event. When the puck drops, all the individual races will be paused while a line judge will call the winning horse in each race. If you are correct, you will get your money back plus the small juice on the side.

An important thing to watch out for is where you place your bet. You want to be sure that you are located in a state whose laws allow for legal betting on horse races. It would be great to be able to place a bet anywhere in the country, but this is probably not practical.

The reason behind this is that when you place your bet, you will be required to reveal your name and address. This information is then passed on to the proper authorities, who will prosecute you if they discover that you are betting from out of state or out of country. If you are indeed found to be breaking the law, you will face serious repercussions, including jail time and hefty fines.


Horse racing is among the most popular and historic sports in the world, and for good reason. It is great to follow the outcome of a single event, but it is even better when you get to follow the outcome of an entire series. This is because there is always the possibility that a single event won’t settle the matter and a different outcome will manifest itself. The entertainment factor of horse racing is undeniable, but so is its ability to teach and expose its fans to new things. Thanks for reading! We hope this article has helped you in your quest to better understand run line betting. There is a lot more information online, so if you want to learn more you can always use a search engine to find the answers to your questions.