Who was the first person known to wager on the sport of Greyhound coursing?
It wasn’t John Avello, though for the last several years, Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas posts odds on the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The odds are for breeds, not specific dogs, and proposition bets are listed “for entertainment purposes only” by John Avello, the Executive Director of Race & Sports at Wynn. Bets are not actually taken, and it’s all in fun. Avello’s odds sheet only specifies odds of the breed/variety to win and doesn’t factor in a dog show’s elimination system. In 2015, the top five contenders were as listed here, and the actual winner was Miss B, the 15″ Beagle.
The answer is Henry VIII (1491-1547). The King adopted the Greyhound as his personal standard and it remains the symbol of the House of York today. A great lover of hunting and coursing, Henry was also the first person to wager on the sport.
Image of Greyhounds, alaunts, spaniels, mastiffs, and hounds from Livre de la chasse, Paris, France, ca. 1406-1407