Off-Track and Online

Off-Track and Online

The Networked Spaces of Horse Racing

By Holly Kruse

How horse racing's pioneering use of communication and information networks helped shape the modern media, information, and leisure environment.





How horse racing's pioneering use of communication and information networks helped shape the modern media, information, and leisure environment.

The horse racing industry has been a pioneer in interactive media, information networks, and their deployment. The race track and the off-track betting parlor offer interactive media environments that reconfigure the relationships among private and public space and presence and copresence. In this book, Holly Kruse explores how horse racing has used media over the last several decades, arguing that examining the history and context of horse racing and gambling gives us a clearer understanding of the development of data networks, media complexes, public entertainment, and media publics.

Kruse describes an enormous industry that depends on global information and communication flows made possible by a network linking racetracks, homes, off-track betting, farms, and auction sites. Racetrack architecture now allows for the presence of screens, most showing races from other locations. Online betting sites enable bettors to wager from home. Off-track betting facilities collect wagers on races from all over the country. Odds are set interactively through the pari-mutuel market system. Kruse considers the uses of public space, and its redefinition by public screens; the effect of interactive media on the racing industry, including networked, in-home betting; the “technopanic” over online poker and the popularity of in-home pari-mutuel wagering; and the use of social media by racing fans to share information and creative work with no financial payoff.


$39.00 X ISBN: 9780262034418 216 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 13 b&w illus.


  • [T]his book is a unique examination of the horse racing industry and its place at the forefront of networked communication. Kruse's description of horse racing culture convincingly positions gamblers as an influential group in a networked society.

    Ethan Tussey

    Media Industries Journal


  • The seemingly low-tech world of horse racing, we learn in this fascinating book, has long served as a test bed—and, sometimes, a hotbed—for innovations in communication and information technology. Moving from Victorian racetracks to off-track betting shops, contemporary 'racinos,' and the living rooms of online gamblers, Kruse approaches each site as an experiment with the new media of the day—from the telegraph to the telephone, mechanical 'totalizers' to computerized wagering software, simulcast screens to at-home interactive television. Off-Track and Online offers a novel and timely vantage on the ways in which digital media are reorganizing public and private life today.

    Natasha Dow Schüll

    author of Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas

  • This carefully researched study explores how horse racing has adapted to new media technologies, placing its recent evolution into a rich historical context. Kruse is to be applauded for giving racing the attention it deserves as it transitions to the social media age and for providing valuable insights to those interested in gambling, media, and technology.

    David G. Schwartz

    Director, Center for Gaming Research, University of Nevada, Las Vegas; author of Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling