Betting on horse races is legal in much of the US. In the age of the internet and mobile devices, that often includes online wagering.
Legal horse betting sites and apps for 2021
Here is a look at some of the best online horse betting sites and apps, and how to get your money online. Many of these are PayPal betting sites.
See the latest odds for the Breeders’ Cup here.
TVG is most famous as the go-to for horse race viewing on television. However, it also offers online horse betting.
- Creating an Account: Creating an account takes just a few minutes. You must give your name, address, phone number and birthdate, while also making a password for your account. You will also need to provide the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- Depositing: Options about for depositing, including PayPal, TVG BetCash (for directly depositing from your bank account), credit or debit cards, TVG prepaid card, MoneyPak, PayNearMe, check or money order and wire transfer.
- Withdrawing: Once you have funded your account using one of the methods above, you can usually get your money back the same way.
- Betting Online: You can bet via the website, or download their app from the App Store. There is currently no app for Android, but the site is optimized for mobile. The full range of straight and exotic bets is available for bettors. You can also do your research right on the site or in the app for almost all races. Because it’s TVG, you can also watch many races online via the TVG website.
- TVG Promo Code: An up to $250 deposit bonus at 50% match is available on your first bet using promo code LSRTVG.
- Rewards Program: Users get points for each bet, with which they can later use for wager credits.
NYRA Bets is a production of the New York Racing Association (NYRA) that is available around the country.
- Creating an Account: Name, address, phone number, birth date and Social Security number are all required. You also need to create a username, password, and a PIN for using at tracks.
- Depositing: Options include Express Funding to link your bank account, credit card, PayNearMe, at some tracks, by mail or by wire transfer.
- Withdrawing: Most of the same options can be used to withdraw, once they have been used for a deposit.
- Betting Online: Bets can only be placed online or via a mobile browser; there is no app. Beyond that, though, NYRA Bets offers the full range of straight and exotic bets any experienced better would expect to find.
- Rewards Program: Users get points for each bet, with which they can later use for wager credits
What are the best horse betting sites in the USA?
Here is a full list of the legal horse betting sites in the US ranked in order. Bettors can learn more about horse racing online to acquire the best chances of being a successful bettor.
Top Horse Race Betting Sites in the USA
|Ranking||Best Horse Racing Betting Site||Best Welcome Offer|
|1.||TVG||$250 First Deposit Bonus|
How to bet on horse racing?
Once you have signed up and deposited, you’ll be ready to place your first bet. This process will quickly become intuitive.
There are two parts to the process. First, you need to find your selection and the bet type you want to place. Second, you add this to your bet slip and confirm the amount to wager.
Navigating to your race can be done via the track listings or the timeline of races at all three major racing sites. You’ll see the runners for each race, with the odds for win and show, plus a toggle for more options. Adding the bet to your bet slip is as easy as clicking the line you want to bet.
Sites place the bet slip to the right (or via a pop-up message). For singles bets, you can add an amount to bet, then confirm to place this. For multiples bets (trifecta, exacta and superfecta), you need to first add all the selections to your slip.
You’ll then be set to follow the race via live stream, and hopefully collect those winnings.
Horse betting apps
Betting on your phone or tablet is effortless these days. The best horse race betting sites allow for this. The easiest way for most bettors is to access their websites via your mobile device. The display will automatically adjust to your small screen. All the functionality, including live streaming and results/stats, are available. You can deposit and place bets while on the move.
There are dedicated horse racing apps, which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store (for Apple devices). TVG, TwinSpires and BetAmerica offer these. Android users can download an app for TVG, though not the other two sites. This will come directly from TVG (it is not in the Google Play store). To download it, you’ll need to approve an “unknown” source.
Free bets, sign-up bonuses
Each of the major online racing sites offers free bets or bonuses. How these are given varies. Note that these will come with playthrough requirements and other terms and conditions. Check out our detailed horse race betting site reviews for more on the fine print.
TVG: New accounts who sign up using the bonus code LSRTVG will receive an up to $250 deposit bonus at 50% match.
Where can I watch the races?
You’ll have a lot of different options when it comes to watching horse racing as it happens. Options range from heading to your local track, to using your mobile phone to view a live stream. Here are the main choices:
- At the Track: With hundreds of racetracks nationwide, many people now have a venue within driving distance. You’ll find many tracks have entertainment complexes, and some offer casino games too.
- On TV: Major events are screened on the big networks; you can also watch TVG for smaller, daily races.
- Via Simulcast: Racetracks are linked together, with many offering big screens for races at other venues – as well as the ability to place bets on them.
- OTB Venues: Some states let you bet and view races/check results at dedicated off-track betting venues which don’t host live races.
- Streaming Live: The most popular racing sites (TGV, TwinSpires and BetAmerica) all offer live streaming via their websites and betting apps. If you are an active bettor, you’ll be able to view the races in real-time via your web browser.
If you miss a race, you’ll find the online horse racing betting sites offer replays to active bettors – as well as a comprehensive results service.
Horse racing odds and picks
In each race, the amount of money bet on the individual horses determined the odds. These can be expressed as positive or negatives.
For example, if you see 4:1, you’ll win $4 for every $1 you stake (plus your initial stake back). If you instead see 1:4, this means you’ll need to stake $4 to win each $1 of return.
These “odds-on” selections are found when a race has a strong favorite, which is widely expected to win.
Odds for place and show selections are naturally smaller than for win bets. You have multiple chances of being paid.
Horse racing has a skill element, involving finding value from the field. Picking a potential winner or finding a selection whose price is better than their true winning chances will make you money over time.
Online horse racing betting sites help you pick winners by providing statistics detailing the results of previous races. These range from simple form guides and raw results to detailed past performance databases.
Many databases are paid services, with the racebooks offering them as a perk for bettors who wager on a specific meeting.
Understanding the payouts
All racing bets are pooled. The total bet around the country on a race is divided among the selections. For example, if a million dollars is bet on win in a race, 50% of this is on a single horse. The winners (should this horse win) are paid 1:1. The prizes for place, show and trifecta bets are determined in the same way.
To calculate how much you’ll win based on the current odds, simply multiply your stake by the odds shown, then add that stake back in.
For example, if you see a selection at 6:1 and bet $10. Your payout would be 6 x $10 + $10 = $70.
Biggest horse races across the US
There are prestigious events for all types of horse racing, which range from harness through to Arabian horses. When it comes to events that catch the public’s imagination, the Triple Crown takes center stage.
This involves three races for thoroughbreds, each of which has qualifiers to ensure that only the best horses get to take part. Here are the races in date order. To complete the Triple Crown, a horse needs to win all three in the same year.
- Kentucky Derby: Held at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, KY, this race is known as “the most exciting two minutes in sport.” The Kentucky Derby has been run every year since 1875 and caps a two weeklong festival featuring many races. A number of traditions go alongside this race. These include mint julep cocktails and a blanket of roses which is placed on the winning horse.
- Preakness Stakes: The second leg of the Triple Crown is held at the Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore, MA. It is held two weeks after the Kentucky Derby on the third Saturday in May. This race is 1900 meters and on a dirt track. A blanket of flowers is placed on the winner of this race too – in this case, black-eyed Susans.
- Belmont Stakes: If a horse has won both of the preceding races, all eyes will be on it for the final leg of the Triple Crown. The Belmont Stakes takes place in Elmont, NY, on either the first or second Saturday in June. This 1.5-mile race started in 1867. It attracts huge TV audiences when the Triple Crown is at stake. Flowers have once again become a tradition. This time the winner is decked in a blanket covered in white carnations.
Other races you can bet on in the United States
- The Arlington International Festival of Racing – Arlington Park
- Stars and Stripes Racing Festival – Belmont Park
- Haskell Invitational Stakes – Monmouth Park
- Travers Stakes – Saratoga Race Course
- Dubai World Cup – Meydan Racecourse, Dubai
- Santa Anita Derby – Santa Anita, Calif.
Where can you bet on horse races online in the US?
Betting on horse racing online or via a mobile device is not legal in every state.
- New Hampshire
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Where and how you can bet can vary by state, but some apps serve all of these.
Apps and websites operating in these states often allow wagering on races across the country and even internationally.
How is it legal?
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) has a carveout for horse racing. That leaves it up to the states whether they want to legalize online wagering on horse races.
Anywhere the platforms above offer wagering, state laws have been enacted to allow for online wagering and horse race betting apps.
Virtual horse race betting
If no real races are going on, you can also wager on virtual horse races. These are races simulated by a computer program, and bettors can still wager on the outcome. More on virtual sports betting.
Unfortunately, this is not offered in the US, although land-based and online casinos may offer this in the near future. Wagering on virtual horse races is more common in Europe and other regulated markets internationally.
Horse racing breeds
To the majority of people, racehorses look similar. Behind the variations in color and height, you’ll find several distinctive breeds in different races.
Thoroughbred Horses: The big races are for thoroughbred horses. While there is a big mix of heritage, they can all be traced back to just three fathers born in the 1700s. Those sires were then imported to England, where they established blood-lines that were later imported to the US.
Standardbred Horses: Harness racing uses a different breed known as standardbred. These horses can have thoroughbred ancestors, with mixed heritage. This breed is considered easier to handle than the highly-strung thoroughbreds. Standardbred horses are used for showjumping as well as harness/trotting racing.
Arabian Horses: While many of today’s races are over short distances, there are longer endurance-type races scheduled. A different breed, known as Arabian horses takes part in these contests. Arabian horses are perfect for long distances racing, though not for short bursts of speed. As the name implies, these horses (recorded as a subsection of thoroughbreds) were first bred in the Middle East.
Quarter Horses: Quarter Horses is a name given to the mixed-breeds which come from Spanish colonial stock. The name comes from the quarter-mile racetrack which was popular in the early days of horse racing.
Horse race betting terms
There are a lot of slang terms, acronyms and unique terms associated with betting on horses. The list below includes the key definitions to get you started.
Blinkers: Also known as “blinders,” these cup-shaped devices cover the eyes of horses, narrowing their field of vision to the track ahead.
Colt: A male horse.
Daily Double: A bet which involves picking the winners of two highlighted races (usually consecutive races).
Furlong: This is a distance measure, e.g., a race might be listed at 10 furlongs. Each one is one-eighth of a mile.
Exacta: This is a bet on the first- and second-place finisher (in the right order).
Filly: A female horse.
Gelding: This term refers to a male horse that has been sterilized, which a common practice which can make unruly horses focus on racing.
Grade: Races are graded on the quality of the horses involved (and purse). Grade 1 races have the best competitors.
Handicap: Many races add weight to the better horses (based on past performance) to level the playing field.
Harness Racing: These races involve jockeys in small carts behind the horses.
OTB: This acronym stands for off-track betting. In some states, you can place bets at venues which do not have racing of their own.
Post Position: The placement of a horse in the starting stalls, which is in relation to the position of the rail.
Pari-Mutuel: Bets are pooled, with the payout based on the number of bettors who chose a winner (or other bet types). This betting format is called pari-mutuel betting.
Place: A bet on a horse to finish either first or second.
Pick 6: A bet covering the entire race card. Pick bets can sometimes be found for three or more races. If this is not won, the prize pool is rolled over onto the next racing fixture.
Purse: This describes the prize money awarded for a race.
Show: A bet where you win if your selection finishes either first, second or third.
Simulcast: Live races shown on screens at racetracks around the country. You can bet on these races and watch them as they happen.
Superfecta: Bet on the first four finishers in the right order; this bet has the potential for huge prizes.
Trotting: This form of racing does not allow the horses to break into a gallop.
Triple Crown: To win the Triple Crown a horse needs to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in the same year.
Trifecta: A bet where you need to predict the first-, second and third-place finisher of a race in the correct order.
Win: The basic horse racing bet, you pick a winner of the race.