From the horse track to the Iditarod Trail -- betting on sled dogs?

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Last Great Race on Earth will get a little more interesting this year. For the first time in 48 years, the Iditarod has organized a way for people to bet on their favorite mushers. It’s called the ‘Trifecta.’

Race CEO Rob Urbach says racers and organizers wanted to find a way to make it more appealing in a world where sports fans are keeping up through things like fantasy leagues and highlight reels.

Here's how it works: Those over 18 who are interested submit an entry for $10. They pick the musher they think is going to win, how fast they’re going to finish, and how many dogs they'll finish with.

Urbach said there’s a good chance more than one person picks the same winner. From there it goes to the time to decide a winner, and so on. If somehow, more than one person guesses all three correctly, they split the prize.

The pot is split by 40% for the winner of the Trifecta, 40% for Iditarod, and 20% split between the top 20 mushers.

“We tried to come up with a formula that we thought was appropriate and fair for all,” Urbach said. “We wanted it to be a substantial payout so the winner will be excited to get some cash, but also we wanted to give back to the race itself so we can do more things.”

There are some opportunities to bet on races, bingos, and other things in Alaska, but there are still fairly strict guidelines to how Iditarod is able to facilitate the Trifecta under Department of Revenue Regulations.

For example, only a non-profit organization can do a contest such as this. If a race is created specifically to bet on, it’s illegal in this state. Iditarod is a non-profit.

It’s not a Trifecta with three categories to fill out by accident either. Regulations require that there be two more elements of chance chosen when betting on dog mushers’ contests in Alaska other than picking the winner.

Of course there’s also paperwork and forms to get a permit for the contest. That has all been filed and taken care of according to the Charitable Gaming Commission.

One thing that Urbach said he wishes was different is that online betting isn’t legal in Alaska. He said it makes the process of submitting an entry less convenient than he’d like.

“There’s a physical process where you have to create PDF’s and email it in, then make a phone call, so it’s a little more cumbersome than I would like,” he said, “so you send your entry to us and we take your transaction over the telephone, or in person.”

He said people can submit their entry at the Iditarod Office in Wasilla, at the Mushers’ Banquet, and at the starting ceremony.

Entries are being accepted until 2 p.m. on the day of the Ceremonial Start, March 7.

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