Betting in Iraq: Erbil’s professional betting on horseraces
Horse racing in Iraq is nothing new, it is a tradition that dates back in the middle east in general for hundreds of years if not even more, everybody’s bet is on more than a thousand years actually.
The way the Arabic culture viewed the horse is from a perspective of a majestic and royal animal. Yet, it seems that professional horseracing as a sport has just caught up with the middle east recently, and betting on horse races is something that came even later than that, actually, it just started in the Iraq region in a small city known as Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region in Iraq. So, how does betting on horse racing look like in the Arab world today?
In 2017, Erbil’s Equestrian Club launched its first series of horse races that would begin a new chapter in Iraq and Kurdistan’s prestigious horse racing sport.
The club, established in 2014, is one of a kind currently, accepting bets before the races start to add excitement and marry back horseracing and betting as they should have always been, together.
In 2018, the Erbil horseracing club began a new series of horseraces that included betting, it launched a VIP lounge and even had announces in Kurdish and Arabic to participate in the broadcast of the race to add more excitement to the spirit of its Arabic and Kurdish attendees.
Betting in Erbil in 2019 is still accessible to those who live there, with 2 horse races a month in the Equestrian Club, enthusiasts are kept busy and always anticipating the next event. Even though betting has been considered forbidden in some areas of Iraq, the region of Kurdistan remains resistant and infatuated with betting in shops and online, that is why these races seem to perfectly fit the Kurdish passion for betting.
The club managers in Erbil have a firm belief that these events will surely pick-up and gain popularity with time. Godar Ibrahim, the Club’s Finance Manager explains “This is the first race on a professional track with cash betting”. He continues “It gives us pride for Kurdistan to have such a professional place,” explains Ibrahim.”
The main reason behind these races remains to be the financial support for the club itself
As taking care of horses has large expense to maintain and the owners always need a new cash flow. The wins aren’t that big either for these events. For example, the biggest win in the race was a 100$. Of course, the VIP Arabic betting lounge might have had a different margin all together, but it remains that amongst the common betting enthusiasts, small amounts only are in play on the bets.
Betting in the middle east today seems to be something of an odd portal to enter. More and more we are witnessing a blossoming of the betting spirit there, and more liberal regions like Kurdistan are taking the lead in the betting world in the middle east now. Who is next?
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