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Race horses running on a hippodrome.

Men from Finland with higher IQ more likely to bet on horse racing

The higher a man’s IQ, the more likely he is to bet on horse racing, according to new research from academics at the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Liverpool.

In a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making found that men with higher numerical IQs were more likely to engage with skill-based gambling, such as horse racing, choose more complex betting products and spend more money.

The study involved more than 15,000 Finnish men who had completed an IQ test as part of their compulsory military service when joining the Finnish Defence Forces. This was cross-referenced with extensive records of the men’s online gambling behaviour and data on their socioeconomic status, income and education from Statistics Finland.

The data did not include women as only men in Finland are required by law to complete military service and take an IQ test.

Commenting on the findings, Professor David Forrest from the University of Liverpool Management School said: “Our research found a strong correlation between men with a high IQ and those who take part in skilled gambling, such as betting on horse racing.

“It is important to note that our findings can’t necessarily be generalised to chance-based gambling, such as gaming machines. However, there is very little previous research on the association between intelligence and skills-based gambling and so finding such a strong link is significant.”

The study does not provide a definitive answer on why men with higher IQs would enjoy betting on horse racing, but the researchers believe this could be because men with higher IQs enjoy the mathematical challenge posed by such skill-based betting.

Associate Professor Jani Saastamoinen of the University of Eastern Finland said: “Betting could be compared to solving crossword puzzles. Perhaps, bettors like to crunch numbers and find the winning horses – even though they know they’ll end up losing money in the long run.”

The Finnish Defence Forces' IQ test scores from male conscripts born between 1962 and 1990 were examined for this study.

Niko Suhonen, Jani Saastamoinen, David Forrest, Tuomo Kainulainen. Does IQ predict engagement with skill-based gambling? Large-scale evidence from horserace betting. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, September 2022.

For further information, please contact:

David Forrest, Professor, Management School. University of Liverpool, tel. +44 151 795 0679, David.Forrest(at)

Associate Professor Jani Saastamoinen, Business School, University of Eastern Finland, tel. +358 50 4423463, jani.saastamoinen(at)