The first thing to understand when betting on virtual horse racing is that these events are effectively lucky numbers draws, more like playing the lottery than betting on traditional horse races.

Virtual horse racing has proved so popular that most bookmakers now produce their own generic racetracks, featuring races as often as once every 3 minutes and shown either online or within their licensed offices. However, the 49s products broadcast by SIS in betting shops throughout the UK (and abroad) remain the most popular. These consist of Portman Park, Sprintvalley and Steepledowns where race meetings take place on a daily basis and usually provide from 6 to 14 races each per day.

Although these races are decided according to a random numbers draw, that is not to say that every virtual horse in the race has the same chance of winning. The shorter the available odds, the more likely the horse is to win. Consider a field of 10 runners and a bingo-style bag containing 100 bingo balls, each containing the name of a horse in the race. The name of one horse may appear on 10 of these balls while other horses are represented only once. This determines which horse is the favourite and will have the shortest odds and those which are outsiders with longer odds. Choosing a horse with low odds will give you the best chance of winning but choosing a horse with longer odds, while less likely to win, will return a bigger dividend.

Race cards for Portman Park, Sprintvalley and Steepledowns are available on the evening prior to racing and the betting odds offered are usually available in the morning, ahead of racing.