“Gambling is Gambling”: Creating Decontextualized Space at an Indian Racecourse

  • Stine Simonsen Puri


Horseracing was introduced to India by British army officers, who organized the first two-day racing meeting in 1798 in Bombay (Chettiyappaya 1995, 11). By 1885, there were 76 operating racecourses that were established all over India, and horseracing had become a popular spectator sport for the British army officers as well as for the Indian royals. Around the 1890s, along with the introduction of organized betting facilities, the racecourses were furthermore opened up to the general Indian public (Surita 2012) in line with the trend in England (Reith 2006, 80). After Indian independence, racecourses remained in prime locations in the major Indian cities now taken over by the Indian state. When TV coverage of races along with interstate betting were introduced in the 1980s, it became possible to bet on races all over India from any of these racecourses, or from some of the racecourses not in use for races, which now only operate as a ground for betting. Since this time, there has been a steady increase in horse betting in India. Official numbers show that between 2001 and 2010, the betting amount increased from 246 to 455 million dollars. These numbers however, only include those bets that have been placed legally, and on which government taxes have been paid.


Horse Racing Mainstream Society Willful Ignorance Regular Gambler Horse Owner 
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© Jens Dahl and Esther Fihl 2013

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  • Stine Simonsen Puri

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