The Difference Between Real-Life and Virtual Horse Racing

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An action shot of two horses racing side-by-side.
BetMGM @BETMGM Aug 13, 2022, 7:32 AM

As reality and virtual reality move closer together, you may be wondering if you should choose between real-life and virtual horse racing, thinking both are a type of online sports betting. While modern graphics may have you thinking they are one and the same, the two experiences are actually quite different.

Join us as we explain the differences between real-life and virtual horse racing.

Real-life horse racing

People have a long history of riding and racing horses. The “modern” era of horse racing started in the 17th century, but people around the world have enjoyed racing these animals for thousands of years. Sadly, the date of the first horse race and its pioneering culture have long been lost to the sands of time, but some of the earliest existing records go as far back as 40 BCE.

Modern Western horse races all follow the same basic formula: multiple horses line up at a starting point, the start of the race is signaled and the horses race to be the first across the finish line. These races may feature jumps, a sulky (the modern version of a chariot) or other twists on the formula. The goal with each of these versions is to be the first horse and rider across the finish line. However, the version that we’ll be discussing is the most popular format, namely, flat racing. 

In flat racing, horses with jockeys compete against each other on a racetrack. These tracks are usually straight or oval but, in some cases, may take the form of a figure eight. The total distance of these events can be from as little as 440 yards up to two and a half miles. The surfaces of these tracks also vary, with the most common being dirt, turf and synthetic. 

Different breeds of horses have different strengths and weaknesses for races, which is why you’ll only find certain breeds taking part in flat races. For example, Thoroughbreds are considered suitable for flat races, while Standardbreds are better suited for harness races.

For gamblers, modern horse racing features all the best aspects of sports betting. With proper research on the sport and an understanding of the horse racing track, you can improve your chances of picking a winning horse. The sport also offers a great variety of bets, not only on single races but across multiple races and horse racing tournaments. And, of course, there’s the thrill of being able to watch the race unfold and the anticipation of waiting for your chosen horse to cross the finish line in a top position.

Virtual horse racing

When gambling at both real and online casinos, you are likely to have noticed a number of virtual sports gambling games, including virtual horse racing titles. These virtual games are designed to look and feel exactly like a real horse race, but with some important differences. 

The biggest difference between virtual and real-life horse racing is the fact that virtual racing is decided entirely by random number generators (RNG). RNG means that the winner of a virtual race will be decided entirely by luck. However, horses do have different odds, which have a small influence on whether a horse will win or not. For example, a horse with odds of 6:1 will have a greater chance of winning than a horse with odds of 20:1. In these titles, a favored horse is more likely to win. 

It’s easier to think of the odds of winning like it is a lottery or raffle. Horses that are the favorites to win will have more tickets or lottery balls in play, while those that are not will have fewer tickets or lottery balls in the game. This means that it’s more likely that a favored horse’s “tickets” or “lottery balls” will be chosen, but it is not guaranteed.

Thankfully, you don’t need to watch the game play out like a lottery or raffle. No matter what the outcome is, the horse race plays out like a real simulation, complete with commentary and cutting-edge graphics that are almost indistinguishable from real racing. This helps add to the excitement of this virtual experience.

Which one should I choose?

If you’re undecided between these two excellent gambling activities and need help choosing which one is right for you, we’ve listed some key differences between them for you to consider.

Real-life horse racing

Here are the reasons many people enjoy betting on real-life horse racing:

  • Winners are not decided by pure luck, with horses each exhibiting different strengths and weaknesses that affect the outcome of a race.
  • It’s possible to research which horses are performing well to increase your chances of placing a winning bet.
  • It’s possible to increase your winnings in the long term since it’s not purely a game of chance.
  • Placing bets at bookies or attending races in person provides great opportunities for social interaction.
  • You can also bet online if you don’t have the time to place a wager in person at a sportsbook.
  • There’s a great range of betting options, such as win, place, show and exotic bets.
  • There are opportunities for huge wins if you are willing to risk a bet on a “dark horse.”
  • It’s thrilling to watch a horse you’ve researched cross the finish line in first place.

Virtual horse racing

Here are the elements of virtual horse racing that appeal to many gamblers:

  • The races are quick and take place often during a day, compared to real races, which are much longer and less frequent.
  • Virtual horse races take place 24/7.
  • They are unaffected by real-world changes in the weather or injuries to the horse.
  • The winner is decided by luck, making it a great choice for those who like online slots and similar gambling games and those who think bookies manipulate horse racing odds.
  • The graphics and sound effects are getting increasingly advanced, making it feel like a real race with natural commentary from virtual commentators.

Enjoy betting on the best real-life horse racing events at BetMGM

If you’re interested in placing a wager on some hot-blooded horse racing, you should place your bets at BetMGM. BetMGM and NYRA Bets bring you some of the most exciting racing you’ll find. With NYRA betting online, you’ll have the option to wager on numerous high-profile events on the horse racing calendar. 

Register at BetMGM to wager on all these thrilling races!

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.