There are a variety of options for California online horse betting fans. California has unrestricted access to most of the top online horse race betting sites in the US. The only major service that Californians are blocked from joining is AmWager.
While CA does not offer legal online casinos, poker sites, or sports betting sites, it is completely legal to bet on the horses online. The other betting-related ways to legally win money online is through sweepstakes sites or Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) platforms.
Below, we’ll go over each of the major online horse race betting sites as well as some ins and outs of betting on horses in the State of California.
List Of Online Horse Betting Sites In California
|Horse Betting Site||Bonus Offers|
|DRF Bets||Double first deposit up to $250|
|NYRA Bets||100% deposit match up to $200|
|TVG||Risk free rate on first single horse win up to $200|
|TwinSpires||$100 bonus credited after $500 in completed wagers within 30 days|
BetAmerica is one of the most popular horse betting sites in the US. They offer a huge number of events and live streams that only TVG can really compete with.
When you visit the site, you’ll notice that BetAmerica also offers an online sportsbook and casino. However, people located in California can only legally play on the horse racing side of the site.
Unfortunately, all of BetAmerica’s bonus offers are reserved for casino games or sports betting, not horse racing. If you’re new to the racebook and simply looking for the bonuses, you might want to circle back to BetAmerica once you’ve become more experienced.
With that being said, BetAmerica is an approachable option for newcomers. Their top-rated status is earned by an overall level quality that all levels of horse bettors can appreciate.
Daily Racing Form (DRF) can trace its history back to late-1800s Chicago as a horse racing publication. Since then, it’s remained one of the most trusted resources for stats, picks, and predictions.
In 2011, the brand launched DRF Bets, a highly regarded sportsbook out of New York City that offers a great selection of races and live streams.
The best part about this option is the combination of expert guidance alongside pari-mutuel betting. Even the most avid horse racing bettors can’t be at every track. That’s where the insights from DRF comes in. And you can take that info directly to the racebook side of the site.
Even if you’re new to horse racing and live in California, you’ve likely heard of Belmont Park. That’s because it’s the site of the Belmont Stakes, one of the Triple Crown horse racing events that includes the Kentucky Derby.
NYRA Bets offers live streams to these tracks as well as many that span the country. This highly-respected horse betting platform offers all types of picks as well as a welcome bonus that doubles your first deposit up to $200.
However, DRF Bet’s promo is the same but slightly better, where you get up to $250.
TVG is likely the most popular horse betting platform in the United States. They offer the largest number of live streams and racing events. And while the odds and winning potential are comparable across all the sites, having more races to choose from gives TVG the advantages of winning potential as well.
TVG has the distinction of being the first legal online horse race betting platform. Launched in 1999, it’s maintained its popularity by consistently innovating in terms of payment processing and ongoing bettor rewards.
Their largest competitor is BetAmerica, but with TVG offering a risk-free bet welcome bonus, TVG may have set themselves apart as the no-brainer choice between the two.
A consistently top three choice among the online horse betting options in California, TwinSpires offers a large selection of races and live streams that compete well with BetAmerica and TVG.
But what really sets TwinSpires apart are the promos. They offer innovative bonuses, insurances, jackpot tournaments, and other offers that put most of their competition to shame. TwinSpires is hands down the online racebook to choose if you prefer the promotional offers over the standard bets.
But the promotions aren’t compensating for their lack of picks. While BetAmerica and TVG still have a slightly more robust selection, TwinSpires has the winning potential you could easily put up against its two biggest competitors.
What Types Of Bonuses Are Available For Online Horse Betting In California?
The bonuses offered by the online horse racing sites are similar to what’s offered by online casinos and sportsbooks. Here’s an overview of the most common:
Deposit Matching Bonus
The welcome bonus at both DRF Bets and NYRA Bets is the deposit matching bonus. They’ll match your first deposit by a certain percentage up to a maximum amount. For example, if you deposit $250 at DRF Bets, you’re rewarded an additional $250 once you meet the betting requirements.
A risk-free bet requires that you pay upfront for a pick. Then you either win the bet and keep your winnings or lose and receive your bet back as a wagering credit. TVG’s welcome bonus is a risk-free bet on your first single horse pick up to $200.
A free bet is different from a risk-free bet because you don’t have to put up any of your own money. Instead, you take the free money and use it to bet.
Insurance promotions are most similar to a risk-free bet, and there’s a lot of carryover. For example, the TwinSpires “Photo-Winsurance Promotion” refunds a percentage of a lost bet if the race ends with a photo finish.
Cashback And Reward Points
Cashback is different from rewards points only because it saves you a step. With cashback, you’re given free wagers that are automatically credited to your account as a reward for betting on the site. Rewards points are the same, except that you have to cash them in to receive rewards that include free wagers.
Terms and Conditions To Be Aware Of
Be sure to carefully read the terms and conditions for each promotion and bonus offer. For every one, you’ll need to bet a certain amount to qualify as well as take advantage within a certain timeframe.
List Of Horse Race Tracks In California
|Race Track||Location||Year Founded|
|Santa Anita Park||Arcadia||1934|
|Del Mar Racetrack||Del Mar||1937|
|Golden Gate Fields||Albany||1941|
|Los Alamitos Race Course||Cypress||1951|
Santa Anita Park
The oldest operating race track in California is Santa Anita Park, which routinely hosts the Breeders’ Cup World Championship. In fact, it set the attendance record in 2016, when the two days of racing brought in $159,991,803 in bets, $20,694,235 of which was on-track.
Other major races at Santa Anita Park include the Santa Anita Derby and Santa Anita Handicap. However, folks in California do not have to travel to Arcadia, in Los Angeles County to bet on these races. On top of the off-track locations in the state, you can also bet on in-state races online.
Del Mar Racetrack
Located up the coast from San Diego, the Del Mar Racetrack is objectively gorgeous. Many have stated it’s the most stunning horse racing track in the US and possibly the world, located a literal stone’s throw from the beach.
But Del Mar Racetrack is loved for reasons beyond the tourism appeal (and the fact that it was founded in part by Bing Crosby). This track hosts competitions all year round, some of which are significant in world horse racing. It also absorbed several of the races when the Hollywood Park Racetrack closed down in December of 2013.
Golden Gate Fields
Another racetrack right by the ocean, Golden Gate Fields is Northern California’s only major horse racing track since 2008. But this Bay Area staple debuted in 1941 and has hosted races on a near-daily basis ever since.
The most interesting aspect of Gold Gate Fields is the Tapeta synthetic track which is designed to host races in the rain. This type of track is rare, found in only six tracks worldwide, two of which are in the US.
While the key benefit is its resistance to inclement weather, Tapeta track is also designed to be “as safe as possible for the Thoroughbred racehorse.”
Los Alamitos Race Course
While Los Alamitos Race Course in Orange County hosts both thoroughbred and quarter horse races, it’s best known for the latter. Having hosted four quarter horse races with a purse over $1 million, it’s the most lucrative racing venue in that category in the United States.
The most notable race held at Los Alamitos Race Course is the Champions of Champions, a quarter horse event that’s taken place here since 1972. If you’re curious about the past winners, record-breakers, and other accolades, Wikipedia has a helpful chart and list with everything you could want to know.
Is Online Horse Race Betting Legal In California?
Yes, betting on horses online is legal in the State of California. You do not have to be at the specific track or even at an off-track betting (OTB) facility to make your picks. There’s no law against betting on horses via desktop or mobile devices.
Who Regulates Horse Racing In California?
The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) regulates horse racing in California. The board was founded in 1933 and regulates both the horse racing tracks as well as the pari-mutuel betting.
The Governor appoints the seven members of the CHRB. As such, they’re headquartered in the state capital of Sacramento, California.
The betting oversight of CHRB applies to both on-track and off-track facilities that span the entire state from Del Mar to Golden Gate.
How Safe Is Online Horse Betting In California?
California allows for legal horse race betting on-track, off-track, and online. That means that betting at any licensed American racebook is completely safe as long as you don’t gamble more than you can afford to lose.
If you were to live in a state that outlawed online horse race betting, that’s when you could run into some trouble. While local law enforcement won’t come after you, joining an offshore and illegal betting website has inherent risks. They could be a total scam at worst. But at best, you have no real recourse if you have a dispute with the operator.
Thankfully, people located in California do not have this problem.
What Races Can You Bet On In California?
Popular Horse Racing Events In California
According to our count, there are 34 horse races in the world with a purse of a million dollars or more, and the TVG Pacific Classic Stakes in Del Mar is the only one in 2020 (August 22nd) that takes place in California.
As part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge, the winner of the Pacific Classic Stakes is automatically entered in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which is the fourth race after the Triple Crown that makes up the Grand Slam.
The only horses to win all four races of the Grand Slam are Whirlaway in 1941 and American Pharoah in 2015.
Important American And International Races
Most of the biggest horse racing purses in the world are awarded in the United States. However, the all-time biggest is the Dubai World Cup that takes place in March, with a purse of $12 million.
While the Kentucky Derby in Churchill Downs is the most renowned race in the US, the purse of $2,000,000 is the same as several races throughout the year in Keeneland, a track located in Lexington, Kentucky.
Other huge races include the Breeders’ Cup Classic ($5 million purse) and the Breeders’ Cup Turf ($3 million purse), both of which take place in October in Keeneland.
The Pegasus World Cup of Gulfstream Park in Florida boasts a $3 million purse.
Interestingly, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, the other two Triple Crown Races, offer a purse of $1.5 million and $1 million respectively. Those barely make it into the top 20 biggest purses in the industry.
California bettors can place bets on all of these national and international horse racing events at California’s online horse race betting platforms.
Do Racetracks In California Offer Casino Games?
No, racetracks in California do not offer casino games. They simply take pari-mutuel horse racing bets.
In California, casino games are largely illegal. You can play blackjack and other casino card games as well as multiplayer poker at cardrooms in the state. But you’ll need to travel to neighboring states like Nevada to play roulette, video poker, or slots.
However, off-track betting (OTB) facilities can double as cardrooms in California.
Does California Have OTB Facilities?
Yes, California has off-track betting (OTB) facilities. Both the OTB facilities and racetracks are regulated by the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB).
You won’t find a huge number of OTB locations in the state, but there’s a decent chance there’s one nearby. Here’s a list of the locations:
OTB Facility Location
Sacramento Off Track Betting Bureau Sacramento
Del Mar Off Track Betting Bureau Del Mar
Fresno Off Track Betting Bureau Frescno
Santa Barbara Off Track Betting Santa Maria
The Derby Club at Ventura Ventura
Original Roadhouse Grill Santa Maria
Striders San Diego San Diego
Hollywood Park Casino Inglewood
California Online Horse Race Betting FAQ
No. As long as you’re in a state with access to the horse race betting site, you have full access. That means you can open an account, deposit, bet, and withdraw your winnings from any unrestricted state.
However, you might want to check with the specific betting platform before betting from a different state. In some cases, state regulations make the operator take out a higher percentage for taxes, which can affect how much of the winnings you receive.
No. California does not have any racinos at this point in time, which are a combination racetrack and casino.
Racinos are generally limited to the East Coast of the United States, with Florida being a particular hotspot with over 20 venues.
However, New Mexico does have a few racinos, which may be relatively close depending on where you’re located in California.
Yes. TVG is one of the most popular online horse race betting platforms in California. The reason is their extensive race selection, streaming partnerships, and brand recognition.
They also run the biggest horse race in the state: the TVG Breeders’ Cup Challenge at Del Mar Racetrack. But you can join TVG from anywhere within the state.
Yes. BetAmerica is likely the second most popular horse race betting site after TVG. As major competitors, the two online racebooks have comparable offerings, and it’s tough to recommend one over the other.
Like TVG, you can join BetAmerica from anywhere in the State of California as long as you’re at least 18 years old.
You can bet on Triple Crown races in California at any of the major horse race betting platforms. You can also visit the tracks to place a bet remotely or visit an OTB facility.
Betting on the Triple Crown races goes beyond the popularity of the pastime. The online horse racing platforms always run their best promotions of the year surrounding the races.
California’s age requirement for online horse race betting is 18 and up.
For attending the races in person, all ages are welcome. Adults aged 18 and up can place bets. However, those aged 17 and under need to be accompanied by an adult. You also can’t access the bar areas or buy drinks if you’re under 21.
You can visit the OTB facilities or racetracks to watch horse races live in California. But the easiest way is to simply go to the online horse race betting service and watch the live streams through the site.
Both TVG and BetAmerica have a massive number of streaming partnerships that broadcast events directly through the site. You usually don’t even need to place a bet to watch the games, but membership is required.