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A racebook is a place where you can place a bet on horse, harness and greyhound races.

Racebook betting is based on parimutuel betting, which means mutual betting or betting among ourselves in French. In parimutuel betting, all bets of a particular type are placed together in a pool; taxes and a house take are deducted, and payoff odds are calculated by sharing the pool among all placed bets. Unlike many forms of casino gambling, in parimutuel betting the bettor bets against other bettors, not the house or the racebook.

The parimutuel system was invented by Parisian perfume maker Joseph Oller in 1865 when asked by a bookmaker friend to devise a fair system for bettors which guarantees a fixed profit for the bookmaker.

The large amount of calculation involved in this system led to the invention of a specialized mechanical calculating machine known as a totalisator, "automatic totalisator" or "tote board". The first was installed at Ellerslie Racecourse in Auckland, New Zealand in 1913. The totalisator was introduced in the United States in 1933 at Arlington Park, near Chicago, Illinois. Today, totalisators are a common fixture in every horse, harness or greyhound racing track throughout the world.

Before, racebooks can only be found in race tracks. Then came off track betting (OTB) or sanctioned betting on horse, harness or greyhound races outside of a race track. Independent off-track bookmakers have a smaller take and thus offer better payoffs, but take note, they are illegal in some countries.

With the advent of the Internet, you can now place a bet on your favorite horse or greyhound at the comfort of home. Moreover, online racebooks offer irresistible rebates that may help you stretch your bankroll. Online racebooks are in effect reducing their take from 15-18% to as little as 1 or 2%, still ensuring a profit as they operate with minimal overhead. Just remember, place your bets on legal online racebooks only.

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