Online Horse Betting Sites
Horse race betting has a long history in the US. This form of gambling is explicitly legal in the majority of states; you can bet at racetracks, at off-track betting venues, or even online horse betting sites. When you place a wager on a horse race, you are entering into a betting pool. Winning tickets share this prize pool, a system known as pari-mutuel betting.
Here, we cover all you need to start betting on horse races. We guide you through the types of bets, most significant racing events, and how to bet online.
Also, we share practical information on the laws surrounding horse race betting, payment methods, and how to register at the top horse racing betting sites.
Best sites for horse race betting in 2022
Our list shows the most prominent and best sites that welcome new bettors from across the country. With the majority of states able to bet legally, horse racing sites are the most popular venues for betting, watching the races via live stream, and analyzing past performances to help you select winners.
Is online horse betting legal in the US?
Before the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, many forms of online gambling were promoted. While this act stopped the operators of poker sites, casinos and sportsbooks from accepting wagers from the US, horse racing betting sites got a carve-out.
Betting online is allowed via pari-mutuel pools in any state, which provides horse race betting within its borders. There are 30 states that allow betting online.
More recently, individual states have been regulating sports betting within their borders. Horse racing has not been part of this legislation since the federal law already allows it. When it comes to on-track betting, simulcast wagering, and off-track betting offices, this is under the jurisdiction of the individual states.
In most states, you need to be 21 or older to place a bet.
How to bet on horse races online
Betting on horse races is different than betting on sports. Instead of the betting sites offering lines, bets are pooled into a system called pari-mutuel betting. As you’ll read below, there are many ways to bet.
The total wagers on different bets (win, place, show, trifecta, and so on) are collected, and then the pool is divided between the winning tickets.
Any last-minute rush to bet on a horse will divide the prize pool between more tickets. Pari-mutuel betting sets the price of each bet, not the betting sites.
There are three main types of bets. You can bet on an individual horse, on several horses in the same race (and the order they will finish) or on the outcome of multiple races.
Here is an explanation of how each bet works.
Single horse bets:
- Win: This is the most straightforward horse racing bet. You are wagering that your selection will win the race.
- Place: Your horse needs to come in first or second for this wager to be successful.
- Show: Adding an extra spot, you’ll receive winnings if your selection finishes first, second, or third.
Multiple horse bets:
- Exacta: This bet involves picking two horses. To win, both horses need to finish first and second in the correct order. You can “box” all multi-horse bets, essentially betting twice to cover both finishing orders.
- Trifecta: Pick three horses to finish in the correct order, and you’ll potentially have a big payout. Again, it is possible to box these bets, covering the six possible finishing combinations of three horses.
- Superfecta: This wager involves picking four horses to finish in the correct order. While it is hard to win this bet, the potential payout can be huge.
Multiple race bets:
- Pick 5/6: These bets involve picking the winner of several races at a specific track each day. It is harder to win than many bettors imagine, with one outsider winning a race upsetting a lot of people’s wagers. If a pick bet loses, the prize pool will roll over to the next day. If a pick’s prize pool rolls over more than once, it can create a considerable jackpot, which incentivizes many people to join the betting.
- Futures: You can combine futures bets for the most significant race meetings. A popular example would be to pick a horse to win the Triple Crown.
How horse race betting sites work
You can access horse betting sites on your mobile phone, tablet, or via a desktop computer. While there are differences between the brands, they work in much the same way.
Apps are available, too, though they are not required. The websites will adjust automatically to fit your screen size, putting the navigation icons and links behind menu buttons to save space.
Registering for a horse race betting site requires only a minimum amount of individual information.
Firstly, the sites will detect your location to ensure you are within a legal jurisdiction. You will also need to provide the last four digits of your Social Security number to prove you are old enough to bet (21+).
Here are the main sections you’ll find at horse racing betting sites:
- Today’s Races: The default view will show the latest races. You can scroll through this list or use the menu on the left to narrow your search by type of race or track. If you are looking for an individual horse or venue, then the search button is the fastest way. You’ll find basic information on the runners, along with the latest win, place, and show prices. Clicking on these betting lines will move a selection to your bet slip.
- Bet Slip: After selecting runners from the day’s races, you can organize your wagers using your bet slip. Some sites have a “quick bet builder” to simplify this process. You can remove selections, bet on single horses, or organize your choices into exacta or trifecta bets.
- Video Streaming: Once you have placed a bet, you’ll be able to enjoy the action via video stream. TVG is part of the Television Games Network, which offers additional media content.
- Results Databases: There are two levels of research possible at the horse racing betting sites. Primary data on each horse is freely available to help you make the best selection. You will also find the pro-level past performance data, which is free (site dependent) as long as you place a wager at the meeting.
- Account Information: This is where you will find your account info, balance, and progress toward clearing any bonuses or collecting loyalty rewards.
- Cashier: The cashier section will include your balance and an area to deposit and withdraw your winnings. We cover how to deposit at a horse racing betting below.
- Bonuses and Promotions: It is worthwhile to keep an eye on the promotions pages of all the major sites. You never know when a deal will appear, covering the type of bets you were about to place. We explain the types of incentives in more detail below.
How to deposit at a horse race betting site
Depositing any of the major betting sites is both straightforward and safe. While you won’t find the long list of payment methods available at the state-regulated sportsbooks, it is easy to get your money on board.
The primary method is your bank card, which can be your Visa or Mastercard debit or credit card. You can also use prepaid debit cards, including Visa gift cards.
Bank transfers are available under various names, including Express Funding or Expressfund.
Many sites will accept wire transfers, as well as old-fashioned paper checks. For cash deposits, you can use PayNearMe at your local 7-Eleven stores.
Finally, PayPal is available for both deposits and withdrawals. While many bettors welcome this service charge fees, the added security for online purchases.
Bonuses, promotions at horse race betting sites
You can take advantage of bonuses at the major horse racing betting sites. These range from small, completely free bets to matched welcome deals. You should also consider ongoing promotions and incentives; these can make a big difference to your bankroll over the long term than the initial welcome offers.
Here are the forms of bonuses that the significant sites have in common:
- Matched Deposit Bonus: As an incentive to new bettors to deposit, the horse race betting apps will match your first deposit with free bets. With $100 in free bets up for grabs, the standard match is at 100%. You will need to wager your winnings, and typically complete the required betting within 30 days.
- Risk-Free First Bet: Removing the risk from your first wager is used in place of the matched deposit method. Here, your stake gets refunded (as a new bet) if your initial wager loses.
- Promotions: Look out for promotions where your stake gets returned for second-place finishes, enhanced odds, and other one-off deals for specific races. Promos are often themed around the most significant events, for example, the Kentucky Derby or Breeders’ Cup. Some sites have regular promotions, while others change their lists all the time.
- Free Past Performances: You can get pro-level datasheets, and expert selections at TwinSpires via its free past performances offer.
- Picks Contests: Here, you’ll compete against others at your site to pick the winners of multiple races.
- Loyalty Rewards: Collect points based on the bets you place, and then exchange them for extra bonuses or free bets.
Most popular horse races in the US
There are hundreds of races every day, especially during the summer. The main distinction is between thoroughbred and quarter horse (flat) racing and standardbred (harness) races. Furthermore, these races can take place on dirt, turf, of artificial surfaces. There are other formats, including endurance races.
The best horses compete in graded races. There are different levels of these with stakes races at the top. Some of these have multimillion prize pools, which attract the top equine talent from around the world.
You can also bet on international races at US horse race betting sites. Some of these, like the Epsom Derby, the Saudi Cup and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, are huge events.
On a day-to-day basis, you’ll have access to races from the UK, South Africa, Australia, and beyond.
Most prominent horse race events
With hundreds of tracks and various types of racing, there is a lot of action when it comes to the domestic horse racing calendar. The highlights of the year will vary, with each state having its big meetings. When it comes to the biggest races of all, the three components of the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup are as big as it gets.
Here are the details:
- Kentucky Derby: The first leg of the Triple Crown takes place on the first Saturday in May at the famous Churchill Downs racetrack. This race is known as “the Run for the Roses.” It is open to 3-year-olds and run over 1¼ miles.
- Preakness Stakes: The second leg of the Triple Crown occurs two weeks after the Kentucky Derby and is held at the Pimlico Race Course in Maryland. Attendance is traditionally huge, only beaten by the Kentucky Derby.
- Belmont Stakes: Three weeks later, the final leg of the Triple Crown takes place at Belmont Park, NY. If a horse has won the first two legs, expect colossal media coverage of this race. The Belmont Stakes is nicknamed “the Test of the Champion.”
- Breeders’ Cup: This series of thoroughbred races with huge prize pools that move from track to track. It attracts the best horses from around the world each year. The biggest purse (at $6 million) is for the Breeders’ Cup Classic race.
Most popular racing events outside of the United States
In addition to the domestic calendar, there are major races from around the world available for betting. Here are some of the richest:
- Epsom Derby: This was the original derby that inspired the Kentucky event. It takes place on the first Saturday in June each year over one mile and four furlongs at the Epsom Downs Racecourse near London. This race was first run in 1780.
- Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe: France’s most prominent race takes place at Longchamp, near Paris, on the first Sunday in October each year. It is considered Europe’s second most prestigious horse race.
- Dubai World Cup: This race meeting is more recent, starting in 1996 in the United Arab Emirates. It is broadcast live on TVG and features the biggest prize pools of any race meeting around the world. It attracts the best global thoroughbred talent.
- Japan Cup: On the last Sunday in November, the biggest prize horse race in Japan is run at the Tokyo Racecourse, which is more than 2,400 meters. With a significant purse, this race attracts the best talent from Europe, as well as the US.
Thanks to a carve-out in the federal laws concerning online gambling, horse race betting is available in the majority of states.
As long as you can legally bet on a race in person in your state, you are also allowed to place a bet online. These bets join with the pari-mutuel pools operated at the tracks, which gives everyone a fair payout based on the weight of wagers for each contender.
Three horse race betting sites dominate the scene: These are TVG, BetAmerica, and TwinSpires Racebook. And though FanDuel Group owns TVG, it started its own offshoot called FanDuel Racing. For fans of the MGM brand, especially its M Life Rewards members, there’s BetMGM Racebook, which is coming soon but not yet live.
Additionally, as an online sportsbook operator for horse racing bets, Xpressbet features more than 300 tracks so bettors can view odds and wager many different horse races. Derby Jackpot, powered by Xpressbet, is for a much less serious horse bettor and operates more like a social casino where players can win real money.
There are quite a few options to explore and each site gives you access to hundreds of racetracks around the globe. However, bonuses and incentives vary between these sites. You can enjoy deposit bonuses, risk-free bets, free past performance data, and plenty of promotions.
Whether you bet at the top-rated stakes meetings or regional, daily events, there is a wide range of betting options. You can bet on single horses to win, place or show, pick multiple horses in the right order or bet on several races in a row.
You can bet right now from your desktop or iPhone, iPad and Android device. Check out what online horse race betting sites have to offer soon!
US Online Horse Racing FAQ
There are 30 states in the nation that allow residents to place online horseracing wagers. They are:
- New Hampshire
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Yes. The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, which doomed many poker and casino sites, contains an exception for online horse wagering.
So, as long as the state has a provision for online horseracing in its laws, its residents are free to partake in the activity.
In most cases, yes. Many of the sites listed above contain the ability to watch any races directly through the app or site.
The television station TVG (which operates one of the sites above) also broadcasts racing 24 hours a day. So, it’s possible to catch relevant race footage that way, too.
In the United States, no. These events, which are popular in Europe, feature computer simulations of races.
Although several live casinos in the US have a game that is similar to virtual horse racing, none of the horse racing apps have this function available. Try B-Spot, which combines horse racing and online casino gaming.