Racing Betting in the USA

Online racing betting is legal in most US states due to favorable gaming laws dating back decades. Even to this day, it is surprising to find out just how many people have no idea that it is perfectly legal to bet on horse races online in the USA. The truth is it has been legal for years.

The horse racing betting sites listed below are all licensed, legal, regulated and headquartered in the USA. There is no need to take your chances with unregulated offshore sites when there are legal online racebooks availabe right here in the United States.

Best Legal Racing Betting Sites

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Online Racing Betting Reviews

Thanks to the internet, horse racing fans do not have to venture far to bet on races held around the country. Many horse racing sites have opened for business since online racing betting was legalized in 2000 (more on that shortly).

The quality of racing betting sites is generally high thanks to strong regulations in place at the state level, but some sites definitely stand above others when it comes to the number of tracks covered, wagering interface, handicapping tools and more.

The best sites cover hundreds of racetracks across the US and other parts of the world. Betting at any of these sites is the same as placing your wagers in person. You have access to all the same types of wagers and you get full payouts, but you don’t have to visit the track to place your bet. Best of all, your winnings can be sent straight to your bank account at the conclusion of the races.

Our horse racing reviews take these factors into consideration and present a straightforward overview of what you’ll find at every licensed racing site.

Online Horse Racing Betting

Off-track betting (OTB) was first legalized in 1978 with the passage of the Interstate Horseracing Act (full text PDF). The act made it legal for horse racing venues to accept wagers at off-track locations provided that all wagers taken at OTB locations went directly to the prize pools of the tracks actually hosting races. Back then, the Interstate Horseracing Act made no mention of the internet.

The act was amended by Congress in 2000 to specifically legalize wagers made over the telephone or “other electronic media.” This paved the way for the first legal horse betting sites to open for business. There are now a number of legitimate online racebooks that operate right here on US soil in full compliance with the law.

Online racing betting received further legal protections in 2006 when it was specifically exempted from a law (the UIGEA) passed that year intended to crack down on illegal online gambling. Shortly thereafter, the first modern horse racing betting sites went live. Now, the majority of US states permit online horse racing betting.

You can learn more about online horse racing here:

Numerous horse racing betting sites are now licensed in the USA, rendering it completely pointless to deal with unregulated offshore sportsbooks. There is no need to put up with slow cashouts and questionable ethics when we have a full assortment of sites that are licensed and headquartered in the United States.

Additionally, doing your betting with licensed racing sites in the USA contribute to the domestic racing industry because all wagers placed online are also pooled with bets taken at the track. This means that not only do you get paid at full track odds, but your business contributes to racing purses and the care of horses.

We should also point out that US-licensed racing sites are not limited to taking wagers on domestic races. Sites such as TwinSpires and BetAmerica frequently take wagers on races held in Australia, Ireland, the UK, South Africa and elsewhere.

Greyhound Betting

Most people think of horses when they hear the words “racing betting,” but greyhounds remain an option as well. Online greyhound betting is governed by different rules than horse racing, but the basic idea is the same. In states that allow online greyhound betting, fans are free to go online and bet on dog races just the same as they can bet on horse races.

Greyhound betting sites are a little tougher to come by these days due the decline of the sport in general.

Greyhound racing has fallen on hard times in recent years due to animal welfare concerns, increased competition for entertainment dollars, and unfavorable legislation. Even so, it is still legal to bet on greyhound races online in certain states.

Just ten states allow greyhound races to even take place, and four of those states have no active tracks. Today, there are only six states which have actual races. Even in those states, attendance numbers are poor and most tracks are reliant on a combination of on-track casino games and wagering handle taken over the internet.

You can read more about the state of greyhound betting and how it works at the following link:

States Where Online Racing Betting is Legal Right Now

Individual states still have the option to restrict online horseracing. A handful of states have taken this option and implement a complete ban on all online horse wagering. To further complicate matters, each state may opt to license some sites but not others. This is why sometimes you’ll find one site accepts customers from one state, but the next site does not. It all depends on who is licensed where.

State-level racing laws can be terribly complicated, so we should warn you that we are not lawyers. The following map showing where horse racing betting is legal or illegal is based on our own personal research.

This map is the product of our own interpretations of the law and in some cases, we assume racing betting is legal because the major racing betting sites accept customers from that state.

The map below displays states where online betting is legal in blue and states where online betting is prohibited in red.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to frequently asked questions related to greyhound and horse racing.

Is racing betting legal in states that don’t have active racetracks?

Yes. Numerous states no longer have active racetracks but still allow residents to bet on races held in other states over the internet.

What is the minimum age to bet on races online?

Most states establish a minimum age of 18 to bet on horse or greyhound races online with the exceptions being Alabama (19+) and Texas (21+).

What is the difference between the morning line and the actual odds?

The first odds to be posted for any particular race are the morning line odds, often abbreviated as ML. A track oddsmaker determines the morning line by comparing the horses slated to run and his or her expectation of the public betting action.

There are two important things to keep in mind when dealing with morning line odds. First of all, the morning line is not necessarily a reflection of the oddsmaker’s actual opinion. The oddsmaker’s primary goal is to predict how the public will bet. Secondly, the ML only serves as a rough estimate. As wagers start coming in, the odds will change to reflect the betting action.

The actual odds are what the odds actually are at any given time based on public action. Remember, dog and horse racing are parimutuel activities. That means the payout odds are determined by the amount of money wagered on each horse. After a horse is declared the winner, the pool is split among all people who backed that horse.

To recap: the morning line odds are an estimated of what the oddsmaker thinks will happen that day based on the relative strengths of each horse and anticipated wagering activity. Actual odds are what you actually get paid after all the wagers have been taken in.

The upside to parimutuel wagering is that it does not put you in direct competition against a highly-skilled oddsmaker. The sportsbook does not care who wins any given race because it receives its commission regardless of the outcome. The downside is that you never really know for sure what the final odds will be until after the race begins.

How does parimutuel wagering work?

The basic idea of parimutuel wagering is that patrons bet with one another rather than against the house. To put it simply, all wagers taken on a particular race are pooled together, the house takes a cut of the pool as commission and the rest is paid back out to the winning bettors.

Let’s use an example to illustrate how this works. Note that this is a very simplified example, but it depicts the concept in action.

Imagine a simple 3-horse race with the following amounts bet on each horse to win:

  • Horse A: $100
  • Horse B: $200
  • Horse C: $300

The total betting pool is $600. Now, let’s say the racetrack enforces a 10% “take” (a.k.a. commission). That leaves us with a total pool of $540.

Now, let’s say Horse A wins the race. A total of $540 would be split evenly among the backers of Horse A. Every $1 wagered on that horse would receive $5.40 in payouts.

Now, imagine Horse B wins the race. The $540 pool would be split evenly among the backers of that horse. Because more money was bet on Horse B, every $1 wagered on that horse would receive $2.70 in payouts.

The upside to parimutuel wagering is that it does not put you in direct competition against a highly-skilled oddsmaker. The sportsbook does not care who wins any given race because it receives its commission regardless of the outcome.

How can I tell which racing betting sites are legal in my state?

Not all horse and greyhound racing sites serve the exact same list of states. The licensing requirements vary from state to state, and not all betting sites have chosen to acquire licenses in the exact same set of states.

The easiest way to see which betting sites operate where you live is to see our state pages here. Each state page provides an up-to-date list of sites that are licensed in that state. Alternatively, you can always just try signing up at one of the major racing betting sites. They’ll let you know early in the registration process if players from your state are not accepted.

What does “ADW” refer to?

ADW is short for “advance-deposit wagering” and refers to betting sites or betting shops that require bettors to fund their accounts prior to placing wagers. In other words, ADW requires you to pay for your bet at the time it is placed as opposed to being able to wager on credit with a shop that settles accounts at the end of the month.

All racing betting sites and most phone betting operations are operated in the ADW format. You might be able to deposit with a credit card at a betting site, but the site itself will not lend you credit.

What does “OTB” refer to?

OTB is short for “off-track betting.” As the phrase implies, it refers to placing wagers while not physically present at the racetrack. In most cases, you’ll see OTB used in reference to small betting shops that accept wagers on a variety of in-state and out-of-state races.

Didn’t Florida vote to end greyhound betting?

Not exactly. Florida voters approved Amendment 13 in the 2018 midterm elections to outlaw exactly two activities:

  • Hosting greyhound races in Florida
  • Betting on greyhound races held in Florida

Florida residents may still bet on greyhound races held in other states through online betting sites. Greyhound racing is definitely an industry in decline, but Floridians do still have the ability to bet on races held in other states. Horse racing is still alive and well in Florida.

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