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Wagering on Dog Races in Casinos
Winning at the Dog Track
by Bill McBride

As greyhound racing becomes more popular races are being simulcast to off-track wagering sites, and to other racetracks, even horse tracks. In most cases, simulcast betting at other racetracks is “co-mingled” (pari-mutual). Monies wagered at locations other than the originating track are transmitted to the home track and computed into the pools there. This affects odds and payoff amounts. Sitting at one racetrack and wagering on dog races from another track is no different than being at that track.

But if you are at a race parlor in a casino in Nevada and are betting on the dog races, you are playing a different game! Here, the wagers made are not co-mingled into the pools at the originating track. Wagers you place will NOT affect the odds. (Note: this is not the case with horse races, as these are co-mingled.)

Those familiar with dog racing are aware that often the size of the various pools can be quite modest. Placing a $20 win bet on a certain dog might instantly change the odds on that dog from, say, 10 to 1 to as little as 3 to 1. A $100 win wager could change a 5 to 1 dog to a “chalk” favorite of 1 to 5. The same holds true in the other pools, including the “exotics,” Perfectas, Trifectas, SuperFectas, etc.

However, if you were wagering in Nevada the bets you make will not change the odds. You are not wagering against the fans at the track, but instead are wagering against the casino. When you win, the casino will pay you at the same odds as the track, up to certain limits. Since the casino is not “backed” by the track pool, they must pay you from their own coffers. Perhaps fellow dog fans in the casino have been betting in the same ratios as the fans at the track. Paying the winners off would leave the same 20% “take out” as the track gets. But this places the casino at a certain “risk”. Perhaps there are not enough players betting on the dog races to create a pool large enough to pay off the winners. Or perhaps there are simply more winners or a larger ratio of decent handicappers versus numbers players.

Casinos don’t like “risks” like this. While they welcome the dollars brought in by casual greyhound bettors, they are exposed to the “dangers” of more experienced players. So, they place “maximum payoff limits.” For example, they may limit Trifecta payoffs to no more than, say, 300 to 1. If you were to hit a $1 Trifecta that paid, at the track, $1400, the casino would limit your win to $301. Most will also limit the payoffs on Quinielas and Perfecta/ Exactas as well, and on win, place and show wagers. Certain types of “exotic” wagers provide little or no profit for them, so they simply refuse to take those wagers. Most will not accept Daily Double wagers, Superfecta or TwinTrifecta bets and the majority will no longer accept Pefecta/Exacta wagers.

If you are suspected to be a knowledgeable greyhound bettor you will find that the amounts you are allowed to wager will be limited. Typically win, place, or show wagers over $20 will require “Supervisor approval” before acceptance, and forget about betting $50 or $100. This takes some edge away from the serious dog player. Still, if you’re good at handicapping, clever enough at wager structuring, and content with modest gains, you can create a positive R.O.I. (return on investment) wagering on the greyhounds in Nevada. One thing in your favor is that usually there will be simulcasts from 2, 3 or more tracks. This allows you to be selective, choosing only those races that indicate reasonable promise. If you can pick win and place selections fairly well, your wins will be paid at track odds up to the casino limits, without diluting the payoffs. (Forget show wagering!) I favor the Trifecta pool and the Perfecta/Exacta, if allowed. If you are determined to bet on win or place, and want to lay more than the standard $20, you could place $20 wagers with different tellers, or at other casinos—casinos don’t like risks like this.

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