|Thursday 11th January 2018|
Equine Welfare and Gambling
People have been betting on horse races ever since the racing industry existed. In the UK, for example, horse betting became so popular that at one point there were more bookmakers on the streets than bus stops. Every year a huge number of people get involved in horse betting, especially due to the development of technology in the online gambling market. There are even horse racing themed slot games on Casingdom which give the punter their racing fix when away from the betting shop.
Horse betting is an important part of the global sports betting industry. According to the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, in 2015 the income from the race betting accounted for 45% of the total revenue from the betting from all sports. At the same time, the global gross income from horse betting evaluates as 16.3 billion euros.
The biggest downside of the horse racing industry and a subject for dispute is equine welfare. It is no secret that every year thousands of horses die during the competition all around the world. The most common reasons are heart rupture, leg injuries and pressure on the respiratory organs.
While some animal advocates claim that horse racing is a cruel sport, which should not be legal, others mention that this sport still can be human if certain changes are made. Those who support equine welfare find nothing wrong with the race itself, as long as horses are not affected by danger or cruelty.
According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which is one of the world’s largest animal rights organization, one of every 22 racehorses have suffered from an injury that stopped them from finishing the race.
Other frightening statistics estimate that 3 thoroughbred horses in North America die of the catastrophic injuries every day. Forcing the horse to run on a race track is enough to cause various injuries and fatal accidents, but horse racing industry faces even more challenges.
While animal advocates support the idea of horse welfare in the racing sports, some just cannot decide which issue is the most urgent. Therefore let’s take a look at some of the main challenges of equine welfare that animal rights activists, gambling industry and the players are worrying about.
Injuries and abusive training methods
Sometimes horses begin training and even start racing under at the age of three. At this age, their skeleton and bone system are not yet fully developed or strong enough to handle the pressure of the high-speed competition, which often leads to serious injuries and fractures. Moreover, even experienced veterinarians have trouble diagnosing some types of fractures. In this case, a minor damage can easily become irreversible in the nearest future.
Soring is another significant issue, which causes injuries to the horse’s feet. This abusive training method is prohibited in the US but still concerns equine welfare activists. Even jokers may harm horses by whipping them while approaching the finish line for an extra burst of speed.
Doping and medical treatment
Horses participating in racing competitions all over the world are vulnerable to another important issue which is doping. In order to enhance the performance of the equine, veterinarians and even trainers sometimes inject unregulated substances, medications without prescriptions or misbranded drugs to the horses. This practice often puts horses at risk and may lead to injury, deterioration of health or even death.
The use of medication and treatment of the racehorse is a very controversial equine welfare issue. It is important to treat the horse according to its medical needs and not to the needs of its owner, who is afraid to face the financial loss. The question of an appropriate use of medication is acute and needs to be consulted in order to select the therapy that provides equine’s best health condition in general and not only during the race.
Retired and "unwanted" horses
The challenges of the racehorse's welfare extend way beyond their "sports" career. The American Association of Equine Practitioners defines the term "unwanted horse" as: "horses that are no longer wanted by their current owner because they are old, injured, sick, unmanageable, or fail to meet their owner’s expectations". In the racing industry horses often become unwanted simply because they are no longer able to provide financial value to their owners.
The changes in this area must begin with tracking the number of these unwanted equine’s and making efforts to retrain and find a new home for retired racehorses. The main responsibility of the owner is to make sure that the horse is retired at the age when it still can peruse an alternative career and be able to live a long healthy life.
How gambling industry promotes equine welfare?
In just a few decades, society’s perception of animal and nature welfare has significantly changed. Nowadays horses have more respect and often considered people’s companions, rather than used as transportation or entertainment. The gambling industry is not an exception to these changes and participates in promoting equine welfare all over the world.
According to the American Gambling Association, twenty state-owned casinos in the US make contributions to the equestrian industry by providing a part of their gambling income to help horse owners and breeders. For instance, the racetracks in the state of New York contribute to a variety of local charitable organizations, including retired racehorse adoption programs. In Oklahoma, casinos are the main sponsors of the horse racing industry. In 2015 over $63.4 million in gaming revenue was provided to help fund breeding and other related expenses. Delaware casinos’ contribute to the equine welfare by funding local veterinary clinics.
At the same time, racing in Britain is considered one of the world’s best-regulated animal activities. Yet still, the British government is planning to reform the UK racing levy. Under the new rules, British bookmakers may have to pay a 10% levy on their horse racing betting profits. Even though some offshore firms sometimes participate in the voluntary funding of the British racing, the levy contribution from the gambling industry is still the biggest sponsor of the horse racing. The new levy will provide support to the variety of areas within the racing industry, including sponsoring equine welfare and veterinary science.