Betting on horse races in the US has a rich history going back 100’s of years. You can now bet legally online on horse races in most states. Here at PlayFecta.com you’ll find guides, detailed reviews and up to date information to help you get the most from online horse racing betting sites.
With a unique mix of odds, results and news you’ll have the information you need to start betting with confidence. By taking advantage of horse racing betting site bonuses and promotions, you can get your betting bankroll off to a flying start. While the focus is on domestic racing, you can also find information on the biggest and best races from around the world here.
There are more reasons to bet on horses online than just the convenience. Here are three of them:
The racing calendar is packed with races featuring huge purses. The top-level thoroughbred races, known as ‘Grade 1’, need at least $300,000 in prizes to have a shot at joining this elite level. There are more than 100 of these each year. The races below are the biggest and best of these:
Many countries have busy racing calendars. You can bet on races from the UK, Ireland, France, Dubai, Japan, South Africa and many other countries online. Below are some of the most popular and richest races in the global racing calendar.
You can bet from most states, here is the list of places where online horse racing bets are welcomed, based on the TVG website:
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Yes, there are no restrictions on betting on your own horses in the US. Tax withholding on your wins over $5000 (or odds of 300-1 or more) will apply – you may also be able to write off losses on your own horses against your tax bill.
In some cases, betting on your own horse to lose might be considered unethical. This was highlighted in the UK, where a gentleman who regularly profited from bets on his own horses losing was banned from ownership for 3 years.
The Pegasus World Cup, first run in 2017, has the record for the biggest purse for a single stakes race. This was a staggering $16 million for the 2018 event. It has since been split between two races. As a new race, the Pegasus World Cup did not initially qualify for stakes status. This was grandfathered from an existing graded race at the Gulf Stream, FL track.
The Kentucky Derby is the best-known single race. This is the focal point of a 2 week-long event, which takes place in May of each year at the Churchill Downs course. This race is part of the infamous ‘Triple Crown’. The Preakness Stakes and Belmont stakes take place 2 weeks and 5 weeks after the Kentucky Derby respectively.
Another huge event is the Breeders Cup festival. This is unusual in that there is no fixed home. Instead the event rotates around venues catering to thoroughbred horse racing. In addition to the Breeders’ Cup classic, there are 12 other events with purses over $1 million.
US horse race betting works using a pooled betting model. Wagers for each type of place are totaled. The winning tickets then divide the prize pool between them. This is known as Pari-Mutuel betting. Outside of the US, the bookmakers set their own odds, which are then adjusted depending on the amount of money bet.
When you bet online on US horse races, you are entering the same pools as bettors from OTB offices and tracks.
You can bet on individual horses – or pick the correct finishing order of up to 4 contenders. Here are the most popular bet formats:
Only legal bets are tracked. This means the total bet on horse races each year could be many times more than the $11.26 billion recorded for 2018.
No, systems which rely on past performance data or form never win in the long run. Believing that they can win is a logical fallacy. Bookmakers would not exist, and there would be no betting possible if a winning system existed. This does not stop the creators of these systems from making a lot of money – not from the races they can allegedly predict, but from people paying money for their systems!
As long as you bet at a legitimate / legal betting site, withdrawing your winnings is easy. The exact mix of withdrawal options will vary depending on which book you use. These include bank transfers, PayPal (or alternative eWallets) or even a paper check.
#1. How to Bet OnlineWhen you bet at online horse racing sites, you are entering the pari-mutuel pools. Bets can be on one horse, the finishing order of up to 4 horses, or across multiple races. To bet, you choose your horse, visit your bet slip and specify the bet type and wager amount. The payout is calculated by dividing the total pool of money between the winning tickets.
#2. Betting AppsYou can now bet on horses from your smartphone. There are two ways to access betting sites from a mobile device. Downloading an app will give you access which is fully optimized for smaller screens. You can also access the sites via your browser window. Websites automatically adjust to your screen size. Bets, video streams, form databases and bonuses are all available via horse race betting apps.
#3. Types of RacesWhile the headlines for horse races are dominated by the likes of the Triple Crown, there are hundreds of races going on every day around the country. The main split is between harness racing and flat racing – which can either be thoroughbred or standardbred. Races are typically between 1km and 2.4km (5 to 12 furlongs). Internationally, jumps racing is also popular.
You can bet online on horses legally in the majority of states. Three key dates stand out in the timeline – the first of them predated the internet.
This federal law made it legal to bet on horse races from any state, as long as the state where the race was taking place was doing so legally. There was no internet in 1978. The options available at the time involved simulcast betting. Where your state allowed this, you could bet on horses at tracks or legal OTB offices.
Congress caught up with new technology in the year 2000. An amendment to the original act took away the stipulation of betting from a registered OTB office or racetrack – allowing betting from home via the internet in states which allowed this.
This act came around in response to an explosion in the unregulated online gambling scene (mostly involving poker and casino games). It made it illegal for financial transactions to fund gambling – resulting in many sites pulling out of the US.
Fortunately for racing fans, horse racing bets got a carve-out from these laws. This means you can still deposit using credit cards and services like PayPal at the online horse race betting sites.
You’ll find a lot of variation in the state laws on horse racing. The chart in the section below shows you which states allow this, which have their own tracks, and which ban gambling on horses outright.
States with legal and regulated online betting:
|Montana||New Hampshire||New Jersey||New Mexico|
|New York||North Dakota||Ohio||Oregon|
|Pennsylvania||Rhode Island||South Dakota||Tennessee|
States where online horse betting is strictly prohibited:
|Wisconsin||District of Columbia|
In addition to the legal horse racing sites covered here, a grey market exists – with offshore betting sites allowing bets from the US. These are usually based in the Caribbean or Central America. While the bonuses might seem attractive, these sites are high-risk.
If you are ever cheated or have a dispute (for example a voided bonus or a payout that gets refused), you would have no legal recourse – and nobody to complain too. Offshore sites carry the risk that they will close, taking bettor bankrolls with them. With many good, legal options for US horse race betting fans, there is no need to risk going offshore.
Horse betting sites take responsible gaming seriously. This involves helping people with gambling issues to either limit or stop their betting activity.
The first step is providing information. Self-assessment questionnaires or explanations of what problem betting looks like are used here.
Links and phone numbers for help organizations (local and national) are also provided.
Online betting sites go further than this. They provide tools which let bettors set deposit limits, bet limits or time-outs from the sites. In extreme circumstances, you can also self-exclude completely.
Here are the key organizations you can turn to:
Hit a run of bad luck when you place horse racing wagers and you can quickly drain your bankroll.
But here’s the good news:
Most online betting sites offer a sign-up bonus to entice you to try their system. Some of the best online horse racing bonuses are available from our recommended betting platforms.
You can learn more about the offers below and on our review pages.
Remember to read the terms for each bonus so you know how they work. If you have any bonus-related questions, contact the site’s customer support department.
It’s important to understand your deposit and withdrawal options when you’re ready to make online wagers on horse races. Here’s a list of options you can find at the sites offering online wagering. Not all of these may be available on every site. To learn more about which options are available on a particular website, read our in-depth reviews.