Best Horse Racing Betting Sites in the US
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Sports betting is exploding in the US right now.
In 2018, the Supreme Court removed the federal ban on legal sports betting, enabling each state to determine its own laws around sports betting and online gambling. Since then, more than half of the states in the country have introduced legislation to legalize betting on sports in some form.
It’s certainly an exciting time to be a sports fan in the US, but there was always one form of sports betting that was exempt from the ban and has long predated the recent explosion.
Horse racing has been thriving in the US for literally hundreds of years. Races like the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes have reached near mythical status, and betting on horse racing arguably feels less like gambling and more like a good old fashioned American pastime.
The three options right now for betting on horse racing are:
Horse racing has been no slouch when it comes to embracing modern technology either. The top US horse racing betting sites give you loads of betting options, on meets around the world, from your own home. They also each have their own mobile apps, so you can bet from anywhere with an internet connection.
This page is your complete guide to betting on horse racing in the US: the best sites and apps, the legal situation, types of bets, the biggest events in the calendar and more. We’ve got you covered right here.
Best Horse Racing Betting Sites and Apps
Online horse racing betting in the US is dominated by two platforms, namely TVG and TwinSpires.
A third site, BetAmerica, shares a parent company with TwinSpires and the two are in the process of merging. All three are widely available in the US, with only a handful of states that don’t offer at least one of the three.
There’s lots of overlap between the platforms, in terms of the races available, types of bets you can place and more. But each one is also unique, with its own strengths and weaknesses and quirks. Let’s check them out.
TVG – The Premier Horse Racing Betting App
TVG is the oldest of the three, originally founded back in 1999 as a horse racing broadcaster only, and those roots remain plain to see in its betting platform. The site includes two dedicated news channels – TVG and TVG2 – as well as live streams from dozens of tracks around the country, including Monmouth Park.
Betting on TVG is easy, and the software feels designed for maximum efficiency. You’ll see all the upcoming races in the calendar on the left hand side of the screen. If a live stream is available, you can pop it out from the panel on the right. Adding bets to the slip, experimenting with different formats, and placing bets is simple and intuitive.
You can also personalize the experience by saving your favorite tracks, which is a nice touch.
TVG has a partnership with FanDuel, with the two sharing a parent company in Flutter Entertainment but you wouldn’t know if as a casual user. Instead, the platform is 100% dedicated to horse racing.
The site is not limited to the races themselves either. There’s also lots of secondary content, from handicapping shows and blog posts to statistics, detailed form guides and much more.
TVG feels like a site for racing purists, with loads of ways to bet but also lots of excellent racing content in general.
TwinSpires – Official Betting Partner of The Kentucky Derby
TwinSpires is owned by Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby, which has been hosting races since all the way back in 1875. While originally entering the online gambling market as a horse racing platform only, TwinSpires has since expanded to include regular sports betting and online casino games.
You get access to all three when you sign up, and you can flip between the three sections using the menu at the top of the page. That said, if you want to just stick to horse racing you won’t really be affected by the other options.
Compared with TVG, TwinSpires’ software arguably feels a little more modern. The site is very well designed, making use of collapsible menus that help you navigate around. The support button, where you can find live chat, is always available at the top of the page. There are also quick links to the latest promotions and the news section of the site.
Similar to TVG, placing your bets is nice and easy at TwinSpires. When you open a particular race, you’ll find lots of useful information attached to each horse.
The betslip is great too: you can add your selections and the software will show you your different betting options, and you can also build bets and save them for later if you aren’t ready to place them right then.
TwinsPires also has cool historical pages on iconic horse races, like the Breeders’ Cup and Kentucky Derby.
Both TwinSpires and TVG have welcome bonus packages on offer for new members. The exact offers change up all the time, but you can normally expect a boosted deposit bonus or some free bets when you create an account.
BetAmerica – One-Stop Shop for All Your Racing Needs
Like TwinSpires, BetAmerica is also owned by Churchill Downs. While its sister site originally focused on horse racing only, BetAmerica was conceived as a more general online gambling site, to include sports betting, horse racing and casino games.
Ultimately, all of those features have since also come to TwinSpires, and Churchill Downs has made the decision to merge the two platforms under the TwinSpires banner.
The process began in early 2021, and the BetAmerica site is expected to be totally phased out by the middle of the year. Existing BetAmerica members can smoothly transfer their accounts to TwinSpires, using the same login details.
Is Online Horse Racing Betting Legal in the USA?
Yes, depending on what state you are located in.
Each state is free to determine its own laws surrounding horse racing. That goes for both in-person betting laws at the track, online betting and interstate betting – which allows bettors to bet on races taking place in other states.
Horse racing was exempt from the historical federal betting ban on sports betting, meaning there is a considerably more robust tradition of racing around the country compared with other types of betting. It has been estimated that US bettors gamble around $11billion on horse racing per year – a figure that continues to rise – and there are many states with illegal sports betting but legal horse race betting.
Today online horse racing betting is legal in the vast majority of states in the US.
Below you can see a list of every state in the US that has legalized online betting on horse racing in one form or another. With the vast majority, either TVG or TwinSpires will be available.
However, it’s worth mentioning that the exact laws vary state by state, and you should check with your home state to find exactly how you can and can’t bet.
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
How Betting on Horse Racing Works
Betting on horse racing in the US works in a pari-mutuel format. This is a form of gambling where the public bets against themselves, as opposed to betting against a sportsbook or the house.
All the bets of a similar type are placed in a pool. The bookmaker takes a commission on every bet and the remaining money is distributed amongst the winners, with the payouts determined by the frequency of the successful bets.
For example, a winning bet on a favorite yields a lower payout because a lot of people place the same bet so the money is shared more widely, while betting on an outsider is considerably more profitable.
The same logic applies to more complex bets. With a trifecta for example, you need to make three separate correct predictions to win your bet. It’s more difficult to hit, which means fewer people win and larger payouts.
This is by far the dominant form of horse betting in the US. It’s also intrinsically different from betting on other sports at a sportsbook. In that case, you are betting against the book on a line set by the book. With horse racing, you are effectively betting against other members of the public.
Types of Horse Bets and Wagers
There are tons of ways to bet on horse racing, and online racebooks like TVG and TwinSpires offer a huge variety of bets on hundreds of tracks around the country. In fact, you’ll generally find a greater variety of bets online than on-site.
For beginners, some of the betting options can feel overwhelming at first. We’re going to run through the most common betting options below, but we’d recommend sticking to simple straight bets like “Win” or “Place” if you’re new to horse racing.
That said, TVG and TwinSpire both do a good job of explaining how all their bets work, including exotics, as well as providing handicapping services and other form guides.
Remember that the payouts are determined by both the difficulty of the prediction and how the rest of the public bets. Straight bets (Win, Place Show) typically have lower payouts than exotics, which are more like parlay bets and require multiple correct predictions.
- Win – a bet on which horse will win the race, straight up. If your horse wins, you win the bet. Otherwise, you lose.
- Place – You win your bet if the horse finishes either first or second.
- Show – You win your bet if the horse finishes first, second or third.
Horizontal exotic bets:
- Daily Double – You need to correctly pick the winners of two races in a row. With each of these bets, you need to make all your selections before the first race begins.
- Pick 3 – Correctly pick the winners of three races in a row.
- Pick 4 – Correctly pick the winners of four races in a row.
- Pick 5 – Correctly pick the winners of five races in a row.
- Pick 6 – Correctly pick the winners of six races in a row.
Vertical exotic bets:
- Exacta – Correctly pick which horses finish first and second in a single race, in the correct order.
- Trifecta – Correctly pick which horses finish first, second and third in a single race, in the correct order.
- Superfecta – Correctly pick which horses finish first, second, third, and fourth in a single race, in the correct order.
These are the most common bets at any racebook, but they are by no means exhaustive. For example, there are also lots of combination betting strategies which utilize the above bets and cover more outcomes.
You’ll be able to read all about them on the betting platforms.
Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act
The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act was signed into law by President Trump in December 2020, and has been seen as a major step forward for the integrity and professionalism of horse racing in the US.
The bill mandates the creation of an independent body known as the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, which is responsible for implementing uniform anti-doping standards, testing, and doping bans, as well as maintaining racetrack safety, animal welfare, and oversight over racetrack surfaces.
First and foremost, the bill is expected to greatly improve the welfare of the animals at the center of the sport. It’s also seen a big improvement in the integrity of the betting industry, including providing guarantees that all races take part of a level playing field.
Major Horse Racing Events
The horse racing calendar in the US is rich and varied, with races happening coast to coast throughout the year. Below are five of the standout events:
- Kentucky Derby – For most people, the biggest race of the year happens on the first Saturday in May. The 1 ¼ mile Kentucky Derby has a multi-million dollar prize pool and simply attracts the best of the best in US racing – as well as millions in dollars of bets.
- Preakness Stakes – The second leg of the US triple crown happens a couple of weeks later, in Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on the dirt.
- Belmont Stakes – The last of the three triple crown races happens in June, also on the dirt, with a 12 furlong race at Belmont Park.
- Breeders Cup – A meet of 14 championship races that normally takes place in November, the Breeders Cup changes location every year. The 2021 edition took place in Del Mar, California.
- Travers Stakes – The oldest major stakes race in the US, first held in 1864, the Travers Stakes is located at the beautiful Saratoga Race Course, N.Y.
Horse Racing Betting FAQ
Is online horse race betting safe?
Yes, as long as you are using a licensed and regulated platform like TVG or TwinSpires. Both sites are independently monitored for fairness, and have received licenses from local regulators in each separate state.
Can I bet using my mobile?
Yes. Both TVG and TwinSpires have mobile apps available for download for both iOS and Android devices.
Can I bet on races happening in other states?
Yes, most states with legal horse racing betting allow simulcast wagering on tracks in other states.
Are there horse race betting bonuses?
Yes, the best horse race betting sites offer bonuses and promotions for new and existing members, including deposit bonuses and free bets.