Online Horse Race Betting

Online horse race betting is the oldest form of online gambling in the US. Off-track betting (OTB) parlors, the original form of mobile horse race betting, originated in Nevada. Now, bettors across the US have access to horse betting without having to leave home to visit a race track or an OTB.

The first OTB parlors outside Nevada began to appear in New York in 1970. OTB facilities offer bettors the opportunity to place bets into pari-mutuel betting pools across state lines, on races around the country.

The Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 officially legalized OTB parlors in the US. An amendment to the act in 2000 put language in place legalizing internet-based mobile horse race betting.

Several mobile apps offer legal online horse racing bets in the modern era. TVG, TwinSpires, and BetAmerica lead the pack as the three biggest brands in mobile horse race betting.

The Top Online Horse Race Betting Sites In The US

Mobile Horse
Race Betting Site
States ActiveBonus Offers
TVG Horse RacingLegal in more than 30 states$200 Risk-Free Bet
TwinSpiresLegal in more than 30 states$100 Sign-Up Bonus
BetAmericaLegal in more than 30 states100% Deposit Match up to $100

TVG Horse Racing

TVG operates as both a 24-hour television network dedicated to horse racing and a mobile horse race betting site. TVG stands for “Television Games Network.” It began operations in 1999.

The TVG Horse Racing website and mobile app gives bettors access to a pair of 24-hour television channels dedicated to horse race handicapping. TVG also allows bettors to wager on races at more than 100 domestic and international racetracks.

TVG operates legally in 33 states, including California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky.

Originally an outlet founded by the owners of TV Guide magazine, the British sports betting company Betfair purchased TVG Horse Racing in 2008. TVG operates in the US under the banner of the FanDuel Group, a US subsidiary of Flutter Entertainment (formerly known as Paddy Power Betfair).

Bettors can download TVG as a mobile app for iOS and Android devices or enjoy the platform’s betting and television services from a desktop browser.

New players can get a risk-free $200 rebate on their first bet at TVG if the bet results in a loss.

BetAmerica Horse Racing

The BetAmerica brand operates an online casino, sportsbook, and horse race betting sites in several states. BetAmerica Horse Racing is hosted on a standalone platform.

Founded in 2008, BetAmerica allows mobile horse race betting on races from across the US. Select international racetracks in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Sweden also offer betting opportunities on the BetAmerica platform.

Bettors in 35 US states can legally access and place bets on the BetAmerica Horse Racing platform. Major markets like California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois represent a few of the states in which BetAmerica operates legally.

Churchill Downs Incorporated operates two of the three major mobile horse racing platforms in the US (BetAmerica and TwinSpires). Churchill Downs purchased BetAmerica in 2017.

New bettors can earn a 100% deposit match bonus, up to $100. Bettors can access BetAmerica on a desktop browser or downloaded as a mobile app for iOS and Android devices.

TwinSpires

The origin of the TwinSpires mobile horse racing platform dates back to 2007. Churchill Downs Incorporated acquired a pair of horse race handicapping sites and consolidated them into one brand, now known as TwinSpires.

TwinSpires legally operates in 30 states, including Pennsylvania, California, New York, and Massachusetts. Bettors can wager on races from venues across the US, as well as selected overseas racetracks in the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, and several other countries.

The official betting partner of the Kentucky Derby, TwinSpires is named after the twin spires seen at the Churchill Downs racetrack. The racetrack hosts the annual Kentucky Derby, the most famous horse racing event in the world.

TwinSpires can be downloaded as a mobile app for both iOS and Android devices, or accessed from a desktop browser. New bettors can take advantage of a $100, no-deposit sign-up bonus.

What Types Of Bets Are Available On Online Horse Betting Sites In The US?

Pari-Mutuel Betting

Pari-mutuel betting puts all of the money wagered by bettors on a race into a single payout pool. The money from the pool is then divided among winners, minus the vigorish, or “juice,” taken by the venue that offers the bet.

This kind of wagering pits bettors against each other, compared to traditional fixed-odds bets where bettor wager against the house. Pari-mutuel betting is by far the most common wagering style in horse racing.

Single Horse Bets

Single horse bets involve wagering on one particular horse to finish in a certain place in a race.

These wagers allow for bets on whether a horse will finish first (win), first or second (place), or anywhere in the top three (show). Odds on a single horse bet are always higher for “win” bets.

Multiple Horse Bets

Multiple horse bets attempt to predict where two or more horses finish in a given race.

Bets in this category include:

  • Quinella – Two horses must finish first and second, in any order, for the bet to win.
  • Exacta – Two horses must finish first and second, in that order.
  • Trifecta – A trifecta bet wins if the bettor predicts the top three finishing horses and the exact order in which they finish.
  • Superfecta – A superfecta bet wins if the bettor predicts the top four finishing horses and the exact order in which they finish.

Multiple Race Bets

For a multiple race bet to win, a chosen horse must win two or more consecutive races. These bets include Daily Double (two wins in a row), Pick 3 (three consecutive wins), and so on.

What Types Of Bonuses Are Available When Betting On Horse Races Online?

Risk-Free Bet

Risk-free bet bonuses offer a rebate on the first bet made at a mobile horse race betting platform. This kind of bonus is also commonly offered at online casinos and sportsbooks.

Risk-free bets guarantee a refund on an individual wager, but only if that bet results in a loss.

At TVG, for example, new players can take advantage of a $200 risk-free bet offer. Using this offer, new bettors place their first wager at TVG and are eligible for up to a $200 rebate in the event of a loss.

The refund amount matches the total of the original wager, up to a $200 cap. A $100 bet, for example, would result in a $100 refund in the case of a loss. A $500 bet would be eligible for the maximum refund amount of $200.

At TVG, the first bet must be made within 15 days of the first deposit to be eligible for the risk-free bet offer.

Sign-Up Bonus

TwinSpires offers a sign-up bonus for new players that register for an account on the platform.

After signing up, new players earn up to $100 in sign-up bonus money. To unlock the bonus, bettors must wager $500 within 30 days of registration.

The $500 can be wagered as a single bet, or across multiple wagers, to earn the bonus.

Deposit Match Bonus

Deposit match offers award bonus money that matches a certain percentage of the first deposit on a mobile wagering platform. This kind of bonus is widely offered across multiple online gambling sites.

BetAmerica offers a 100% match bonus up to $100 for new players making their first deposit at the site. Most deposit match bonuses require a set amount of playthrough, or money wagered, to unlock the bonus.

The BetAmerica bonus carries a 10x playthrough requirement. Bettors must wager $1,000 total within 30 days of the first deposit to unlock the full $100 bonus.

The Top 5 Horse Racing Tracks In The US

Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs annually hosts the Kentucky Derby, horse racing’s biggest event. Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the facility opened in 1875.

The Kentucky Derby also started running at the track in 1875. While the Kentucky Derby is the most famous event held at Churchill Downs, the legendary racetrack also hosts numerous events throughout the year.

Churchill Downs held 33 different graded stakes races (events recognized by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association) in 2019. In addition to the Kentucky Derby, the racetrack also hosts major events like the Kentucky Oaks and Churchill Downs Stakes.

Saratoga Race Course

One of the oldest and most revered racetracks in the US, Saratoga Race Course opened in 1863 in Saratoga, New York. Nicknamed “The House of Upsets” and “The Graveyard of Champions,” the venue plays host to some of the biggest upsets in horse racing history.

Man O’ War, considered one of horse racing’s all-time greatest thoroughbreds, suffered his only career loss at Saratoga Race Course in 1919.

Saratoga Race Course hosts 38 graded stakes events annually. The Travers Stakes, the oldest major thoroughbred race in the US, runs at the venue each summer.

Santa Anita Park

Located just outside Los Angeles, California, Santa Anita Park is unparalleled in the number of major races it hosts annually. No less than 80 graded stakes races take place each year at the venerable track.

The Santa Anita Derby and Santa Anita Handicap run annually as two of the most prestigious events at the venue. The Breeders Cup, one of horse racing’s biggest series, has run at Santa Anita Park ten times.

Belmont Park

Belmont Park annually hosts the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown. The Triple Crown marks the ultimate achievement in US horse racing. The Belmont Stakes is considered to be the toughest of the three races that comprise the Triple Crown.

The 1 ½ mile track at Belmont Park is one of the longest in US horse racing. Located just outside New York City, Belmont Park opened in 1905.

The Belmont Stakes is one of more than 50 graded stakes races that run annually at Belmont Park.

Del Mar Racetrack

Del Mar Racetrack lies right along the beach in San Diego County, California. The picturesque racetrack opened in 1936, with Bing Crosby as one of the venue’s founders.

The Bing Crosby Stakes runs annually at Del Mar Racetrack as one of the most prestigious events on the calendar. Del Mar racetrack hosts nearly 30 graded stakes races throughout the year.

Del Mar Racetrack hosted the Breeders Cup for the first time in 2017.

What Are The Most Popular Horse Racing Events Of The Year?

Popular Horse Racing Events In The US

The three races that comprise the Triple Crown are the most popular horse racing events in the US. Legal mobile horse race wagering apps allow bettors in more than 30 states the opportunity to legally bet on the Triple Crown races.

Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby stands atop the list of the most famous and prestigious horse races in the US. Nicknamed “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports,” the Kentucky Derby forms the first leg of the American Triple Crown.

Since 1875, the Kentucky Derby has run every year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The race traditionally takes place on the first Saturday in May and is the highest-attended horse race in the US.

Preakness Stakes

The second stage of the Triple Crown commences at the annual Preakness Stakes. The race generally takes place two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, on the third Saturday in May.

Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, annually hosts The Preakness Stakes.

Belmont Stakes

Considered the toughest race of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes usually runs in June, three weeks after the Preakness Stakes.

The Belmont Stakes is hosted annually at Belmont Park in New York.

Popular International Horse Racing Events

US bettors aren’t just limited to domestic events on legal mobile horse race betting apps. Many prestigious events from around the world are at the fingertips of US bettors.

Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

Held each October in Paris, France, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is considered one of Europe’s most prestigious horse races. Longchamp Racecourse hosts the event.

The Derby Stakes

Great Britain’s flagship horse race, the Derby Stakes, commences each June from Epsom Downs in Epsom, Surrey, England.

This legendary race first ran in 1780. Many other races around the world, including the Kentucky Derby, take their name from the Derby Stakes.

The Royal Ascot

An annual weeklong series held each June, the Royal Ascot is often attended by the British Royal Family. The prestige of the series is unmatched and takes place from Ascot Racecourse each year.

Is Online Horse Race Betting Legal In The US?

Off-track betting (OTB) parlors, the predecessor to modern online horse betting, were legalized in 1978. The Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 contained language to explicitly legalize interstate wagering on horse racing.

A 2000 amendment to the Act legalized internet-based horse race betting. Though many forms of online gambling have faced legal hurdles in the US, online horse race betting is currently legal in more than 30 states.

What Is The History Of Horse Race Betting In The US?

Horse racing in the US traces its roots to the early 1800s. The tradition of horse racing in England carried over into American settlements.

Some of the earliest vestiges of modern-day horse race betting in the US still stand today. Saratoga Race Course opened in 1863, and the upstate New York venue is still one of the most hallowed horse racing venues in the US.

All three races making up the American Triple Crown debuted by 1875. Betting on horse racing has long been synonymous with the sport itself in the US. By 1900 more than 300 horse racing facilities were open for betting around the country.

Pari-Mutuel And Off Track Betting

Pari-mutuel betting was introduced in the US in the early 1900s and is still the most common method of horse race betting used today.

A total of 32 US states currently offer legal pari-mutuel betting. OTB parlors sprang up in New York in the 1970s, which allowed bettors to engage in a form of online pari-mutuel betting.

The Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 legalized OTB facilities, and in 2000 an amendment was added to the act expressly legalizing the use of the internet for off-track betting.

The UIGEA And Online Horse Race Betting

The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 effectively outlawed all internet-based gambling transactions that crossed state lines.

The UIGEA, however expressly allows an exemption for online horse race betting. The federal government permits individual states to enforce their own legislation on online horse race betting.

Nearly 40 states allow mobile horse race betting in some form. Horse race wagers are the only form of online gambling transactions allowed to cross state lines in the US.

Is It Safe To Bet On A Legal Online Horse Betting Site?

Legal, regulated online horse race betting platforms in the US include brands like TVG, TwinSpires, and BetAmerica. Several other mobile horse race betting apps operate in the US.

Bettors should use caution and research mobile betting apps thoroughly to determine if they’re legally operating sites. Government agencies regulate all legal platforms. This ensures a secure experience for the bettor and accountability for the operating betting service.

Betting apps like TwinSpires and TVG are owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated and the FanDuel Group, respectively. These multi-billion dollar companies operate with a vested interest in providing prompt payouts, safe betting, and security of personal information.

Offshore betting platforms do not operate under the same level of regulation as legal betting sites. Betting at an offshore site does not offer the security of wagering on a legal platform. Offshore sites operate in the US illegally, and as such betting on these sites is also illegal.

What Options Are There To Deposit And Withdraw At Online Horse Betting Site?

ACH/eCheck

One of the fastest ways to get funds on an online horse racing site is through ACH/eCheck deposit. This method draws directly from a bank account as an electronic check, and the funds usually become available instantly.

The ACH/eCheck deposit method is known as BetCash, Telecheck, and ECash at various horse race betting sites. Some sites occasionally reject the ACH/eCheck method but is still the most widely accepted deposit method at legal online gambling sites.

Debit/Credit Cards

Most online horse race betting sites allow deposits using a Visa or Mastercard debit/credit cards. These deposits can sometimes be rejected by the issuing bank, but when it does work the funds are instantly available on the betting account.

Some betting sites charge fees for using debit/credit cards for deposits. Credit card deposits are also subject to cash advance fees from the issuing bank.

PayPal

PayPal deposits provide one of the most reliable ways to put money on a mobile horse racing balance. The PayPal process takes a few extra steps compared to some other methods.

PayPal deposits have a nearly 100% success rate, and the funds become instantly available on a betting account.

PayNearMe and Green Dot MoneyPak

PayNearMe allows players to deposit at participating 7-Eleven locations. GreenDot Moneypak offers a similar service at participating Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Safeway Kroeger locations.

Both of these methods come with fees, and bettors should only use these deposit methods as a last resort.

Online Horse Race Betting FAQ

Is online horse race betting legal in all 50 states?

No. Individual states can decide to legalize online horse race betting if they choose to do so. Online horse race betting is legal in some form in more than 30 states. Bettors in those states can access legal platforms like TVG, TwinSpires, and BetAmerica.

States that outlaw online horse race betting include Nevada, Texas, Missouri, and others.

How old do I need to be to bet horses online in the US?

18 or 21, depending on the state. The minimum age for legal online horse race betting is 18 in most US states, but 21 in a few others.

The minimum age of 21 applies to Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, North Dakota, and Washington. In all other states with legal online horse race betting, the minimum age is 18.

Do I need to be located in the state where the race occurs to place an online bet?

Yes. Mobile horse race betting sites use geolocation technology to determine a user’s location at the time of making a bet. States allow betting only within the borders of states with legalized mobile horse race betting.

Who sets the price for online horse bets in the US?

Horse race betting in the US is offered through pari-mutuel betting pools. Pari-mutuel betting puts all wagers on a race into a single pool, with payouts divided among all winning tickets.

The payout on a particular horse can go up or down based on how bets are divided across all participating horses in a race.

Where can I watch horse racing on live stream?

Mobile platforms like TVG operate as both horse race betting sites and streaming video services. In many cases, bettors wager on a race and then watch the race on the same platform in which they made the bet.

How are horse racing odds and picks determined in the US?

Pari-mutuel betting pools determine the odds set on horse racing in the US. Bettor activity on a race can make the odds on particular bets go up or down.

Is it legal to bet on the Kentucky Derby online?

Yes. Mobile horse race betting is legal in more than 30 US states. Betting on the Kentucky Derby online is legal in all of these states, as long as bettors place the wager on a legal mobile horse race betting platform.

TVG, TwinSpires, and BetAmerica are the three biggest legal online horse race betting platforms.

Is TVG online horse betting legal in the US?

Yes. TVG operates legally in more than 30 US states. The Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 legalized off-track betting (OTB), the predecessor to modern online horse race betting.

An amendment to the act in the year 2000 explicitly legalized internet-based mobile horse race betting. The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) outlawed internet gambling transactions that cross state lines, but made an exception for horse race betting.

Are BetAmerica horse racing bets legal in the US?

Yes. BetAmerica is one of three major legal mobile horse racing platforms operating in the US. Churchill Downs Incorporated owns the BetAmerica brand.

Bettors must be located in one of approximately 30 states in which BetAmerica legally operates to place a bet.

Is TwinSpires a legal online betting site in the US?

Yes. Churchill Downs Incorporated owns TwinSpires, which is legal in more than 30 US states.

About the Author

Geoff Fisk

Geoff Fisk is a San Diego-based writer, specializing in the poker and gambling industries. He’s written for numerous platforms and has traveled the globe as a live poker tournament reporter. Geoff’s interests include the legal online poker industry in the U.S. and abroad.