For thousands of years, men and women have enjoyed the thrill of pitting animals against one another in various acts of speed, skill and even strength. As far back as 700 BC, folks packed arenas to witness the ancient sport of horse-drawn chariot racing. Horse racing, aptly named the sport of kings due to its popularity with the aristocracy, is one of the oldest known sports.
Where competition flourishes, betting is sure to follow. This is no different when it comes to animal-based events. Horse betting continues to be the most popular of all animal competitions, with an estimated annual amount of $100 billion being wagered worldwide. Greyhound racing is another popular offering among punters. With annual bets of £2.5 billion, it currently ranks as the third-highest spectator sport in the UK, behind football and horse racing.
Catching the Betting Bug
As the world of animal-based sporting events continues to grow, audiences are now starting to look at less traditional options. This has resulted in bets being placed on some truly weird and wonderful animal competitions. Here are some of the craziest events to wager on:
- Hamster Racing: Hamster racing has become quite popular in Europe, especially the UK. Officially started in 2001, this event sees these furry rodents placed in miniature vehicles, hamster balls or hamster wheels, and racing across a straight 9-meter course to the finish line. Spectators are able to place bets on their favourite competitors through official and established bookmakers. Hamster racing has become so popular that there have been several well-publicised racing events such as MTV’s ‘HamTrak 06’.
- Cockroach Racing: Before you exterminate that cockroach that’s been running around your home, you may want to consider entering the elusive insect in the next cockroach race. This sporting event is incredibly popular in countries like Australia, where ‘competitors’ can be entered into an annual competition known as Australia Day Cockroach Races. This event, which has run for almost 40 years, features no less than 14 different types of races, depending on your cockroach’s level of skill. Cockroach racing is not only enjoyed for its entertainment value; plenty of bets are also placed on races.
- Kaninhop: Rabbits are no longer simply cute, furry pets to cuddle. They also have a competitive side! Kaninhop is an event that involves rabbits show-jumping their way through an obstacle course consisting of jumps of varying heights. Kaninhop is so popular that there are official federations dedicated to the sport. While the bulk of competitions occur in Europe, several events can be found in the USA and Australia as well. Official records are kept, with the current world record jump height pegged at 99.5cm.
- Snail Racing: If patience is one of your virtues, snail racing may just be for you. Officially dubbed the slowest sport on earth, this event consists of two or more snails racing on a circular track. Snails are placed at the centre of the track and the first one to reach the outer perimeter is declared the winner. While snail racing can occur almost anywhere in the world, much of it takes place in the UK. Amazingly, there is a snail racing World Championship, where snails from across the globe can compete for the chance to be anointed as the best in the world.
While our list contains some our favourite bizarre animal and insect sports it barely scrapes the surface of the unusual events you can find around the world. Join the GamblersPick community and share your favourite local or international critter-based sporting event with us.
A Virtual Race to the Finish
Virtual race betting, around since the early 2000s, has grown into one of the UK’s most profitable gambling markets. Virtual horse races are computer-controlled events that aim to simulate the real-life arena of horse or dog racing. Outcomes are determined by a random number generator, meaning that results are completely fair and unbiased.
Virtual race betting carries several key advantages for players. Bettors do not have to account for variables such as non-runners or past form. This makes wagering easier, even for novice players. Also, with bookmakers offering races around the clock, players do not have to wait long to enter another race. Lastly, virtual racing means that there are no judges’ decisions to wait on or racetracks to be cleared. As a result, players can expect to winnings far quicker than at a real-life track.
Animalistic Slots Entertainment
Due to the popularity of animal-based sporting events, it is no surprise to see this as the central theme of many trendy casino slots. Here are three of the most popular options available:
✓Mega Moolah Progressive slot:
Microgaming’s Mega Moolah slot is the undisputed king of animal-themed slots. The reels of this millionaire-maker progressive jackpot slot tells the tale of a wild African safari, replete with zebras, monkeys, giraffes, buffalos, elephants and kudus. It is against this backdrop that players can set out to win any one of four jackpots
This wildly popular progressive slot currently holds the world record for the biggest ever online win – a whopping €17.89 million!
✓Raging Rhino slot:
Another popular animal-themed option is Raging Rhino. Created by SG Gaming, this 6-reel, 4 row slot offers players no less than 4096 pay lines. Raging Rhino sets the perfect scene of an African plain at sunset.
A variety of wildlife roams these slots, including a beautifully-designed leopard, baboon, crocodile, eagle and, of course, the raging rhino. With a respectable RTP of 96%, this online slot is worth checking out.
✓Cats and Cash slot:
Don't come expecting cat toys and catnip on these reels, the game comes with custom symbols including a diamond necklace, a stack of cash and gold bars. With 15 pay lines on offer, as well as two bonus rounds, Cats and Cash will certainly leave players with that purrfect slot experience.
Unleash Your Animal Instincts
Animal-based sporting events provide a wonderful outlet for people to release their competitive nature, without physically taking part themselves. While we love our animals, we also secretly take pride in watching our favourite creatures beat out the competition. It doesn’t matter whether the competition is horse racing or snail racing, the desire for conquering the opponent exists within us all.