The greyhounds chase a "hare", a mechanical lure usually made of artificial bone. The hare starts about half a circuit behind the start. When it passes a point near the starting traps, it automatically triggers the gate, releases the greyhounds and the race begins. Should the greyhounds catch or overtake the hare, the race is declared void.
In the US, there are about 40 greyhound racing tracks operating in 12 different states. In England, there are approximately 32 greyhound racing stadiums.
In the US, greyhound racing wagers, like horse racing wagers, are referred to as Pari-Mutuel, meaning "to wager amongst ourselves" in French. American greyhound racing fans bet against and amongst one another, not against the greyhound racing track. Wagers, of a particular type, are placed together in a pool; taxes and a house take are removed, and payoff odds are calculated by sharing the pool among all placed bets.
In England, greyhound racing wagers are like sport wagers which have fixed odds. For example, the odds of greyhound #1 finishing first is at 4/1 (read "four-to-one" or "four-to-one against"). If greyhound #1 crosses the finish line first, the bettor makes a £400 profit on a £100 wager.
Pari-Mutuel betting differs from fixed odds betting in that the final payout is not determined until betting into the pool is closed. In fixed odds betting, the payout is agreed at the time the bet is placed.
The challenge of betting on greyhound races is to collect and analyze information and then make a sound judgment on which greyhound to bet on, what type of bet to place and how much to bet.
There is obviously no guaranteed way of finding winners, but for a newcomer to greyhound racing, the task must seem quite intimidating. Six greyhounds may all seem the same to the novice but there are many factors to take into consideration before risking any hard earned money.
Over the years, there have been all sorts of so called fail-proof winning statistical systems but the only way one can realistically hope to show a profit in greyhound racing is to study each and every greyhound's race card in any given race.