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Betting on horse races is legal in much of the United States. In the age of the internet and mobile devices, that often includes online wagering.
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.
TVG is most famous as the go-to for horse race viewing on television. However, it also offers online horse betting.
BetAmerica is another trusted US-based wagering platform headquartered in Kentucky.
TwinSpires is one of the most trusted horse racing apps in the business. It is the official betting partner of the Kentucky Derby.
DRFBets is the betting platform of the Daily Racing Form, one of the most trusted sources of information in horse racing.
NYRA Bets is a production of the New York Racing Association that is available around the country.
Here is a full list of the legal horse betting sites in the US ranked in order. Punters can learn more about horse racing online to acquire the best chances at being a successful bettor.
|Ranking||Best Horse Racing Betting Site||Best Welcome Offer|
|2.||Bet America||$100 Bonus|
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 3 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.
Betting on your phone or tablet is easy 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 iTunes app store (for Apple devices). These are offered by TVG, TwinSpires and Bet America. Android users can download an app for TVG, though not the other two sites. This will come direct from TVG (it is not in the Google Play store). To download it, you’ll need to approve an ‘unknown’ source.
Each of the major online racing sites offers free bets. How these are given varies. Note that these will come with play-through requirements and other terms and conditions. Check out our detailed horse racing betting site reviews for more on the ‘fine print’.
TVG: You’ll get a double opportunity for free bets with TVG. New accounts get an instant $20 – no deposit needed. Use bonus code FREE20 to claim this. You can also get a 100% matched free bet, up to $100, based on your first real money deposit.
Bet America: A simple way to get $100 in free bets, Bet America go for the straight forward 100% match on your first deposit. This is credited instantly, so you can get your real money betting account off to the best possible start.
Twin Spires: This free bet bonus works differently to those on most betting sites. Twin Spires will give you $20 in free horse racing bets every time you wager $100. You can get 5 of these $20 bets, for $100 in total.
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:
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.
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.
To help you pick winners, online horse racing betting sites provide 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 race books offering them as a perk for bettors who wager on a specific meeting.
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, and 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 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.
There are prestigious events for all types of horse racing – ranging from harness through to Arabian horses. When it comes to events which catch the public’s imagination, the ‘Triple Crown’ takes center-stage.
This involves 3 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 3 in the same year.
Betting on horse racing online or via a mobile device is not legal in every state.
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.
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/or horse race betting apps.
If there are no real races 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 United States, although some casinos — both land-based and online — could offer this in the near future. Wagering on virtual horse races is more common in Europe and other regulated markets internationally.
To the majority of people – race horses look very 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 3 fathers born in the 1700’s. 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 added in. This breed is considered easier to handle than the highly-strung thoroughbreds. Standardbred horses are used for show jumping 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 sub-section of thoroughbreds) were first bred in the Middle East.
Quarter Horses: Quarter Horses is a name given to the mixed-breeds which come from colonial Spanish stock. The name comes from the quarter-mile racetrack which was popular in the early days of horse racing.
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, for example a race might be listed at 10 furlongs. Each one is one-eighth of a mile.
Exacta: This is a bet on the 1st and 2nd place finisher (in the right order).
Filly: A female horse.
Gelding: This term refers to a male horse which has been sterilized – 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 each horse in the starting stalls 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 1st or 2nd.
Pick 6: A bet covering the entire race-card. Pick bets can sometimes be found for 3+ 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 1st, 2nd or 3rd.
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 4 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 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finisher of a race in the correct order.
Win: The basic horse racing bet, you pick a winner of the race.