Paris Mutuel Urbain (PMU) was founded in 1930. Until 2010, the PMU held a monopoly over horse betting. Since then, the introduction of competition saw the inception of new online operators (BetClick, Zeturf Betnet, etc.) that obtained authorisation from the French Online Gaming Regulatory Authority (ARJEL – Autorité de Régulation des Jeux En Ligne). Despite the rising competition, the PMU still remains the leading horse betting operator in Europe, with 11,300 points of sale in France.

Some punters have become professionals. They know the results of all past races, study the origins of the horses, talk with trainers and know how to predict outcomes based on information gleaned from various sources. They do not hesitate to watch training runs, see how the horses behave and engage with trainers, stable-lads and jockeys.

Why so much passion for a few horses that compete on the track?

The love of horses: come on, let's be honest. The passion for the sport? Hmm. Nothing, in truth, if not [a passion for] gambling.

Christophe Donner, À quoi jouent les hommes, Grasset, 2012

Since 1930, the craze for horse betting has never dimmed. Through the stakes, the horse becomes a game, a medium to earn money. Most punters also have only a very limited interest in horses. Performance, statistics and the results are what interest them primarily; not the horse itself, but what it represents: gambling and money. On the France Galop website, one finds that the total stakes for horse racing in France (all operators) in 2010 was EUR 9.5 billion.

Today the interest in betting earns other equine disciplines. In 2011, online betting opened for some jumping (Circuit Super 10) and horseball (France Pro Elite championships) events. Four operators share these new betting opportunities: Paris365, France Pari, JoaOnline and Netbet. "Parions cheval" [Let's bet on horses] is the motto established by the French Equestrian Federation. A new way to promote equestrian sports and provide greater media visibility.

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