Betting at the Aintree Grand National


In the early days of the Grand National the largest bets usually took place between wealthy rival owners. However, bookmakers who appeared on English racecourses in the early 18th century were very much in attendance at Aintree from the very start. The Grand national itself soon became immensely popular with the on-course punters, although it remained a relatively small gambling event compared with the Epsom Derby.

Today, however, tells a different story. The Grand National generates at least six times as much betting compared to the Derby. The National, as a single sporting event, attracts the biggest turnover of all the major horse races, with a average of £250 million-plus. The money gambled on the Grand National is only surpassed by the likes on monies placed on collective events such as The World Cup, The Cheltenham Festival, and Glorious Goodwood link vào cmd368.

This may never have come to be if it hadn’t been for the establishment of the Horserace Totalisator Board which operated a new pool system, more commonly known as the Tote, or in disrespectful terms as the Nanny. This enabled punters, for the first time, to have an alternative to betting against the bookmakers. Under the new Tote system they could effectively bet against each other, with their bets going into a pool, and with the odds continually fluctuating in response to the pattern of bets laid down, resulting in the total sum finally being shared between the successful punters.

Despite betting flourishing illegally off-course, the Grand National only became the biggest betting event of all from 1961 onwards. This followed on from the legalisation of off-course betting shops which grew dramatically as a result. Betting continued to flourish despite the reintroduction of the betting tax, in 1987, which was confined to off-course betting shops. The betting tax was again introduced in 2001 but by this time the money spent on betting on The Grand National in 1987 had doubled to over £100 million.

Over the years the National has suffered many set backs, not least bomb scares and the introduction of the National Lottery, which the organizers claim cost them £120 million a year in turnover. However, despite these setbacks, the Grand National, in keeping with the first ever winner, Lottery, continues to be a major money spinner, and is growing every year.

In keeping with all other sporting events, the Grand National went technological in 2000, when for the first time, punters were able to place their bets via the internet. This enabled them to take advantage of the tax-free betting available from offshore operatives. The success of internet betting continued to grow and in 2001 it was estimated that the overall profit made by bookies on the race was £20 million. This was mainly due to the bets being placed by punters in over 200 countries world wide.

Three enterprising internet bookmakers offered to pay out on the first five finishers which had never happened before. It may also have been that due to the cancellations of so many other race meetings of that year, due to the foot and mouth crisis, more punters were keen to have one flutter. To top it all, for the first time also, The Grand National was being shown live on television in mainland China with an estimated 200 million viewers. Some viewers were able to have a bet via the internet, but with betting still illegal in China this cut the numbers able to bet dramatically. In 2007 the Grand National was estimated to have made between £250 and £275 million for the day.

Pamela Mitchell has contributed to numerous sports betting sites and has authored several ‘How To’ articles at Betting Today.

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