Fixed-Odds Wagering on Horse Racing Now Available in Colorado

Fixed-Odds Wagering on Horse Racing Now Available in Colorado
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

Fixed-odds wagering on horse racing is now live in Colorado as SIS Content Services announced early Wednesday it secured “a landmark deal” to provide content for the British-based sports betting operator’s app in the state.

Colorado now becomes the second state where fixed-odds wagering is available for thoroughbred racing. New Jersey began offering it in 2022. There is a key difference between how it’s run in the two states.

Monmouth Park operates its own fixed-odds platform in New Jersey. In Colorado, though, the plan is to offer it through licensed Colorado sports betting operators.

“We are thrilled to be able to put horse racing on Colorado sportsbooks for fixed-odds wagering,” said Shannon Ruston, executive director of operations and racing at Bally’s Arapahoe Park in Aurora. “Working with SIS, we crafted a commercial framework that benefits local racing while giving sportsbooks access to thousands of races. Our belief is that this development will secure a better future not only for Arapahoe Park but also for the racing ecosystem as a whole in Colorado.”

On Bet365 Colorado, state bettors will have access to races from more than 130 tracks in the U.S. and international markets. That includes this Saturday’s Saudi Cup, which will feature a rematch between White Abarrio and Derma Sotogake, who finished first and second in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. White Abarrio is currently the 3-1 favorite at bet365.

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Fixed-Odds Vs. Parimutuel

As the name implies, fixed-odds wagering works just like traditional sports betting, with the bettor getting the odds as they were posted at the time of the wager. For more than a century, U.S. tracks have offered parimutuel wagering, where bettors get the odds listed for their selection at the time the race starts. That means someone who bet on a horse when it was 6-1 10 minutes before the race could see their odds drop or rise until post time.

While fixed-odds wagering on races is a fixture in other parts of the world, it’s struggled to gain traction in the U.S. However, some passionate supporters have championed it since the Supreme Court’s PASPA decision nearly six years ago opened the doors for every state to legalize sports betting, including Colorado betting apps.

“The introduction of fixed odds horse racing betting is sure to have a positive impact in Colorado,” a bet365 spokesperson said. “We have seen the popularity of fixed odds betting in horse racing in other markets, and as sports betting becomes more ingrained across the U.S., it will certainly provide a boost to engagement.”

One benefit for sportsbooks is that racing content is typically available around the clock, and races take place every few minutes, which helps to keep bettors engaged.

Among those that oppose offering fixed-odds are some of the biggest track operators in the country. During an interview on the “Bet On Policy Baby!” podcast last year, Churchill Downs Incorporated CEO Bill Carstanjen said parimutuel wagering allows bettors to take advantage of market inefficiencies.

Race tracks also take upwards of 20% of the parimutuel handle, depending on the wager, to cover purses and other operating expenses. The typical hold for fixed-odds wagering at sportsbooks is less than half of that.

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Betting on Horse Racing Fading

Supporters also note the handle for U.S. racing peaked more than 20 years ago when bettors wagered nearly $15.2 billion in 2003, and that does not even account for inflation. Last year, according to data from Equibase, the American racing handle totaled $11.7 billion, down from the $12.1 billion bet in 2022. That 3.7% decline was the steepest drop in more than a decade.

Meanwhile, the American Gaming Association reported Tuesday that U.S. sports bettors wagered nearly $120 billion through licensed operators like Fanatics Sportsbook Colorado in 2023.

Proponents say it’s crucial to not only introduce racing to sports bettors but also offer wagering on it in a way with which they’re already familiar and on platforms they already use. They’re hopeful more sportsbooks will sign on.

“The launch of fixed-odds horse racing betting on Colorado sportsbooks puts horse racing on equal footing with other sports and hopefully attracts a new fan base and revenue for our racetrack partners,” Michele Fischer, vice president for SIS Content Services, said in a statement.



Steve Bittenbender

Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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