Why Horse Betting is Illegal in the United States

Horse Betting is a huge part of the American culture. People across the country religiously follow the sport, wagering on the races and sometimes even watching them as their sole form of entertainment. It is quite saddening to see this beautiful sport slowly be phased out of daily life due to the coronavirus restrictions. According to the New York Times, attendance and wagering at horse races dropped by 98% and 100% respectively in the month of March. With the safety of the players at horse races being a major concern, it is no wonder that organizers are trying to find a way to regulate and prohibit this practice.

Why Were Attendance And Wagering At Horse Races Dropped So Much?

The New York Times reported that among the reasons for the steep decline in attendance and wagering at horse races are:

  • The safety measures implemented after the pandemic.
  • The lack of excitement in comparison to previous seasons.
  • The closure of horse racing tracks due to the pandemic.
  • The postponement of non-essential travel.
  • The stay-at-home order issued in many states.

While some people may benefit from betting on the races, the overall effect is that of harming the sport. In the month of March, the New York Racing Association reported that wagering dropped by 98% compared to the same month in 2019. The American Association of Racing Commissioners International estimates that overall gambling in horse racing dropped by 44% in the first quarter of this year.

Is It Possible To Legalize Horse Betting?

During the height of the pandemic, many states, including New York, began to consider whether or not to legalize sports wagering. One of the major concerns that organizers had to overcome in order to legalize horse betting was determining the age of consent for wagering. The majority of the states in the country have set the age of consent for online gambling at 18. However, a number of states, including New York, have set the age of consent for sports wagering at 21. While the latter may seem like a loophole, many countries, including the UK, have set their age of consent for online gaming at 16. If a state legalizes sports wagering, it will likely be a patchwork of different laws pertaining to different sports.

Will Anything Change Post-Pandemic?

The pandemic had a huge impact on almost every aspect of society. Many people, especially those in the country’s most affected areas, lost their jobs and most, if not all, their means of earning a living. As people are gradually returning to work, many are looking for ways to spend their time. One of the most exciting developments surrounding the coronavirus is the possibility of legalized sports wagering. Many have speculated that this could be a way to bring back the excitement that the sport had prior to the pandemic – but, as we have seen, attendance and wagering fell dramatically even before the pandemic. It is quite possible that the post-pandemic world of sports wagering will not look exactly like the pre-pandemic one.