For 20-somethings like me, being an Ontario sports betting enthusiast and a spectator are two very different things. We don’t often seek the added adrenaline rush that comes with betting on-site because the mobile game is all we know.
This mindset has limited the next generation of sports bettors from branching out and maximizing their wagering experiences; a mistake for which, I too, was guilty.
In late July, the gambling gods gave me a chance to repent when I attended the soft launch of the Stella Artois Terrace at Woodbine Racetrack. Blessed with spectacular views overlooking the finish line on the third level of the Toronto racetrack’s grandstand, I was able to say a prayer and put my betting skills to the test.
Embrace the atmosphere
Walking through the concourse and into the building, I had no idea what to expect. A similar outlook was shared by two of my close friends, also bettors, who accompanied me in my exploration into unknown territory.
It did not take long, however, for us to feel right at home. Breezing past Casino Woodbine and halfway up our third escalator ride, the Terrace announced its presence. Greeted by sounds of laughter, familiar music, and a view of the action that tops most professional Ontario sportsbooks, our initial uncertainty dissipated before we reached the entrance’s sliding doors.
The upbeat atmosphere of the Stella Artois Terrace yields a VIP-like experience for its patrons. The combination of a crowd-pleasing menu with the intense live action of one of the world’s longest-running sports elevates the gambling experience into one that unites tradition with modern surroundings.
It’s dinner and a show, but you’re allowed to bet on the performance and that’s just fine by me.
Cash is king
One stereotype of Gen Zs is the notion that we crave instant gratification. Whether that is true or not is another story. But if one thing is true, it sure does feel nice holding cold hard cash right after a big win.
In my short time as a bettor, wins haven’t necessarily felt real because the only proof I had was a number on the screen of my phone. Electronic or paper, a win is a win – there’s no doubting that – but there’s just something different about watching the mutuel teller unzip their fanny pack and count up your winnings.
My day started with a $22.50 payout courtesy of Rainbow Stables,’ Kosmonavt, and ended with a $17.50 prize thanks to a late push by Rookie Radar, earning the place and show. Races 3, 4, and 6 won’t be discussed strictly for brevity reasons (and nothing to do with losing, of course), but all that matters is I walked out with more cash than I walked in with, and for that accomplishment, I’m very proud.
Expand your horizons
Avid Ontario sports bettors are encouraged to make the Stella Artois Terrace a priority on their summer to-do list. Horse racing provides great variability. Combine that with the spirited crowd atmosphere and it is an experience that eclipses most other wagering alternatives.
At games from any of the four major North American professional sports leagues, fans can only choose between two teams. And depending on the location of the game, a vast majority of support for one side will naturally emerge.
At Woodbine, fans could have up to seven times more options per race. On July 22, race 9 featured 12 horses. This meant people who wagered on the race had the opportunity to choose from 12 teams. All were wearing different uniforms, so to speak.
The crowd dynamics that unfold each race day makes being there in-person unique. From the grandstand to the Terrace, the range of outcomes for winning tickets is diverse. You’re not only watching your horse compete, you are also vying for a victory over contemporaries in the crowd.
After all, that’s what pari-mutuel wagering is all about — betting against fellow bettors, not the house.
Hitting the trifecta
The entire experience was headlined by a stunning view and lively atmosphere. Some lucky breaks made me feel as if the gods of gambling were watching over me. It’s safe to say that my first encounter with on-site betting, definitely won’t be my last.