Gambling has accompanied horse racing from the beginning, and persists despite attacks by reform groups and religious leaders. In the United States, various states, recognizing an opportunity for increased revenues, began legalizing and taxing betting at the track in the 19th cent. American tracks now use the parimutuel system of wagering, invented in France in the 1860s. All bets are pooled, the odds are based on the relative amounts bet on the horses, and wagering is on whether a horse will win, place (finish second), or show (run third). Some states now also operate facilities for off-track betting (OTB).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.