By the time the Daytona 500 kicks off the new NASCAR season every year, sportsbooks in Las Vegas and abroad have already had the odds on the Cup Series winner posted for months. Now, online sportsbooks across the country are carrying that longstanding tradition into the internet age thanks to the repeal of the federal law that formerly prohibited sports betting in every state except Nevada.
Legal NASCAR betting is now taking place in multiple states, with even more slated to join the party over coming months and years. Now that in-person and online sports betting is legal in an ever-expanding list of states, finding a place to bet on the fastest sport in America is easier than ever before.
NASCAR Betting Sites
Long gone are the days of dealing with iffy bookies and fly-by-night offshore sportsbooks. Major gaming companies including the likes of William Hill, Rush Street Interactive, DraftKings and FanDuel have are taking wagers on NASCAR and a wide range of other sports in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and beyond.
The legalization of sports betting is bound to have a major impact not just on your viewing experience, but on NASCAR itself with newfound opportunities to grow viewership, strike advertising deals with gambling operators and reap the rewards of a newly-legal industry. NASCAR finds itself in a state of transition, and the timing is impeccable for a sport that even now is looking for new ways to connect with fans.
If watching finely-tuned marvels of engineering compete at speeds in excess of 200 MPH wasn’t already enough to get the heart pounding, adding a little sports betting to the mix will surely get the blood moving and make every race an intimate affair with real money on the line.
For those of you who’ve been missing out on legal NASCAR betting all those years, this guide will get you up to speed. Today, we’ll be looking at the best NASCAR betting sites, consider how the legalization of sports wagering may impact the sport and discuss how the various types of wagers work so you can hit the races as a well-informed fan.
States Where it is Legal to Wager on NASCAR
The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn PASPA in 2018 did not automatically make sports betting legal in every state. Instead, the decision gave individual states the right to pass laws to legalize, regulate and tax sports betting.
A handful of states jumped on the opportunity quickly and more have gotten on board since then, but sports betting is still very much an emerging industry in the United States. It will likely be a few years before we can fairly say legal sports betting is “widespread.” Figuring out what’s legal and where will remain one of the key challenges over the interim with some states legalizing online betting only, others legalizing physical sportsbooks only and some doing it all.
The map you see below serves as your quick guide to where sports betting is legal right now. We will be keeping this map up to date as additional states pass new laws to legalize the activity, so check back occasionally if you’re still waiting for your state to get on board.
States with legal sports betting
- Blue: Online/mobile betting is legal
- Green: Land-based sportsbooks only (no online betting)
- Red: NASCAR betting coming soon; legislation fully passed but waiting for implementation
Note: As frustrating as it may be if your state hasn’t yet legalized sports betting, we strongly recommended not using offshore sportsbooks that accept American customers. Unregulated offshore betting sites cannot guarantee the safety of your funds and horror stories abound.
That’s not to mention the rising risk of US authorities once again cracking down on offshore betting sites in an effort to protect the nascent domestic industry. As the US industry matures, it would not be surprising in the least to see the sports betting version of poker’s own Black Friday event (which resulted in players’ funds being held in limbo for years).
The next best option if your state does not have legal NASCAR betting is daily fantasy sports. Leading fantasy sites FanDuel and DraftKings both hold NASCAR contests for every race throughout the season and pay out significant sums of the winners every time.
In a fantasy NASCAR contest, you’ll be given a virtual salary and use that to draft your own dream-team of drivers. The best drivers will cost you the most, which means you’ll have to pick wisely in order to build a complete lineup without exceeding the salary cap. There’s quite a bit of strategy involved, just like sports betting, and you’ll get a similar sense of having something on the line on race day.
Most importantly, fantasy sports sites are legal in most states. Only a few states do not allow fantasy sports, so the odds are you can play online today if you’re reading these words. You can learn more about fantasy sports here.
How Legal Sports Betting Will Impact NASCAR
The legalization of sports betting will have lasting impacts on all sports in the United States – mostly for the better. Some of the other major sports leagues opposed legalization for decades (and even took the issue to court), but they too are already starting to reap the rewards.
In general, legal sports betting will benefit NASCAR in two key areas: direct financial benefits as a result of gambling sponsorships and indirect benefits as a result of increased viewership. The financial benefits to NASCAR will likely pale in comparison to the rewards reaped by even bigger sports (think NFL and NBA) but still, NASCAR is in a good position to capitalize on legal sports betting.
Direct Benefit: Partnerships with Gambling Companies
The NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB have all signed deals with major gaming operators involving marketing rights and data usage to assist in managing in-play betting markets. Financial terms behind these deals are rarely released, but word from insiders have valued at least one such deal at $30 million a year for three years.
Already, we can see the financial impact on sports in the United States. Should NASCAR reach similar deals of its own, it too stands to benefit from the legalization of sports betting. Considering how sponsor-heavy NASCAR is already, it will be no surprise at all see NASCAR sign on gambling sponsors as well.
Coincidentally, the new opportunity for gambling advertisers came about right as NASCAR was in the midst of adjusting its approach to sponsorships. With NASCAR considering how to better leverage its relationships with advertisers, legal sports betting opens many new doors when it comes to capturing advertising dollars.
Another potential avenue for increased revenue is through the sale of data to sports betting operators. It turns out sports betting companies are willing to fork over good money for access to data generated by the leagues in order to run efficient and timely in-play betting markets. For just one example of this, consider the deal reached between the MLB and MGM Resorts that involved data in addition to advertising rights.
What makes data worthwhile here is the emergence of in-play betting, which allows short-term wagers to be placed during an event. Sportsbooks can always just check scores on their own when it comes to standard pre-game point spreads and totals, but instant data is needed for in-play betting in order to offer customers up-to-date odds at all times throughout the race.
Indirect Benefit: Increased Viewership
A second, indirect impact legal sports betting will have on NASCAR is a likely boost in viewership. Studies commissioned by the American Gaming Association for other sports have found time and again that people who bet on sports regularly also consume more sports content on average than people who don’t.
These studies have concluded that people who frequently have money on the line tend to watch more broadcasts, tune in to those broadcasts for longer stretches of time, follow official social media accounts more closely and so on. In short, people who bet on sports retain closer relationships with their favorite sports.
With increased viewership, NASCAR can command a higher premium on advertising of all types – not just for gambling companies. Estimates for other sports are predicting upwards of a billion dollars a year in new revenue between the direct impacts of gambling sponsorships and the indirect impacts of increased viewership.
The timing couldn’t be any better for NASCAR in light of its struggle with declining viewership in recent years. Even now, NASCAR is looking for new ways to not only engage its core audience, but to expand its reach a younger generation. Legal sports betting could prove critical to NASCAR growing its viewership numbers once again.
The exact path NASCAR takes to monetize its product in light of sports betting remains to be seen, but there is no question that league execs are paying attention. Back in December of 2018, NASCAR signed a deal with sports betting data company Sportradar to assist the league to detect and prevent gambling-related corruption.
The multi-year deal will have Sportradar implement its Fraud Detection System (FDS) to monitor global and domestic betting activity for suspicious betting patterns related to NASCAR’s three largest championship series.
According to a press release issued at the time, Sportradar was contracted to provide “on-site workshops for NASCAR drivers, teams, officials and associated stakeholders delivered by Sportradar’s integrity and education experts. In addition, Sportradar’s Integrity Services will also help NASCAR develop a full-fledge betting integrity program, including robust betting-related rules and policies.”
Best NASCAR Betting Sites
Choosing the best NASCAR betting sites begins with ensuring the legitimacy of any sportsbook you’re considering, and the best way to do that is to see if it is licensed by your state’s gaming commission. Now that we have legal sports betting in the United States, we can do our betting at online sportsbooks that are fully legal, licensed and headquartered right here in the USA.
You can see our recommendations at the top of this page or visit our state-specific recommendations here. Our longstanding policy is to only deal with sites that are licensed and legal in the United States, so know that any site you see recommended on BettingUSA.com holds a valid state gaming license.
If you’d prefer to venture out and find a betting site on your own, our main piece of advice is to check the website of your state’s gaming regulator. In most cases, you should find a list of online sportsbooks that are licensed in your state. New Jersey residents, for example, can visit this page on the Division of Gaming Enforcement website to see all licensed sportsbooks.
Once you narrow down the options to licensed betting sites only, the overall quality tends to be high. US-based regulators are notoriously demanding when it comes to approving online sportsbooks – they do not just award licenses to anyone willing to pay the fee. US regulators conduct background checks on key personnel, investigate banking records to ensure these sites are properly funded and then monitor licensees for ongoing adherence to gaming regulations.
As a result, only the biggest gaming operators tend to even try to acquire licenses in the US. This in turn tends to lead us to pretty much only being able to play at high-quality sportsbooks. It’s tough to go wrong as long as you always stick with licensed betting sites.
When it comes to NASCAR in particular, there are some additional considerations. While most betting sites offer fairly in-depth coverage of the major sports such as football and baseball, NASCAR is not always given the same priority.
Some betting sites seem to treat NASCAR more as an obligation than a serious endeavor. At those types of sites, you’ll be lucky to find outright wagers only, and even then, only on the biggest races of the season.
Other betting sites stand out for going above and beyond the basic NASCAR wagers. The most comprehensive NASCAR sportsbooks offer outrights just like everyone else, but take it even further with a range of other wagers such as those detailed in our next section. Thus, it pays to do some additional investigating once you have a list of sites licensed in your state.
How to Bet on NASCAR Online
The simplest way to bet on NASCAR is to pick a single driver to win an upcoming race. This is called an outright wager and the goal is simple: predict which driver will win the race outright. If your driver wins, you get paid. If any other driver wins, your wager is lost.
Outrights come with the benefits of being easy to understand and tending to pay very well. The downside is that these are difficult wagers to win with 40+ drivers all gunning for the win. In many cases, it makes sense to back two or more drivers in a single race. You’ll still be paid well if you get it right and your odds of winning go way up.
For anyone new to auto racing betting, don’t be surprised if you see your favorite sportsbook post the odds on a race, take the odds down and replace them once again on the day of the race. What’s usually going on here is your sportsbook is posting the odds about a week out to begin, then taking them down to observe the practice and qualifying runs (which are a critical part of the picture) and then posting the odds again after starting positions have been decided.
If outrights are not your thing, no problem. The best NASCAR betting sites have come up with some unique alternatives for racing fans over the years. Some of the other types of wagers you are likely to see at some point include:
NASCAR futures are similar to outrights except they tend to look a little further into the future. Some futures may just be outrights on who will win a future race, while others may look at who will be crowned champion at the end of the season.
Not sure you can pick the exact winner with any certainty? A podium finish may be more in line with your expectations. With this wager, you pick a driver and get paid if he finishes anywhere in the top 3 places.
Matchup NASCAR wagers give you a choice of two drivers with your job being to predict which of those two will have the better finish. It doesn’t matter where they finish in relation to everyone else; all that matters is where they finish in relation to one another.
Prop bets (or propositions) involve just about everything except who will win the race. NASCAR props are not too common, but some examples would be which driver will get pole position or which driver will lead the most laps.
NASCAR parlays combine two or more wagers into one and offer higher payouts when all of your predictions are correct. Today’s online sportsbooks allow you to create parlays manually by making a couple of selections and then selecting “parlay” on your betting ticket to combine them. The high payouts offered by parlays are offset by the fact that you must get every prediction correct. If you wrap three wagers into a single parlay, for example, you must get all three predictions right or else the bet is lost.
In-Play Racing Wagers
In-play NASCAR betting isn’t something we’ve seen a whole lot of yet with most in-play betting still taking place overseas where NASCAR just doesn’t have as much of a following. As in-play betting grows here in the US, however, NASCAR will almost certainly be in the mix.
The basic idea of in-play betting is that it allows customers to place wagers during the race rather than stopping all action once the race gets underway. For example, you might decide to watch the first 20 laps or so to get a feel for the race and then place a wager at updated odds. Or, you might even choose to place a short-term wager on who will lead the next lap.
In-play betting may end up being a great fit for NASCAR considering the length of races and how much actually happens during any given race. The addition of in-play betting automatically makes all sporting events much more immersive as you go from being a mere spectator to actually getting involved from the first to the very last lap.
NASCAR itself also has the option to get involved, although the organization hasn’t revealed its plans quite yet. In an interview with ESPN, former Vegas-area sportsbook director Micah Roberts explained that NASCAR could even introduce betting at the track similar to how the horse racing industry has done it for years.
In one scenario, Roberts explored the possibility of tracks partnering with third-party sportsbooks and inviting track attendees to download an official betting app while at the track. Then, the track could earn a commission for every app download and keep a portion of any revenue generated by trackside wagers.
We’re still very early in the US sports betting industry, so much of this is speculation at this point. What we do know is that NASCAR has plenty of options when it comes to sports betting. Even if legal sports betting doesn’t end up being a gold mine for NASCAR, the increased viewer engagement alone will be very good for the racing industry.
Daily Fantasy NASCAR Sites
Fantasy NASCAR takes the traditionally passive experience of racing fandom and turns it into something proactive and hands-on. In a fantasy league, you put your racing knowledge to use and compete against other people in contests that reward those who are well-versed in the world of racing.
If you don’t live in a state with legal sports betting, you’re not completely out of luck – the country’s two most popular fantasy sites cover NASCAR races. FanDuel.com and DraftKings.com both host NASCAR contests with real money payouts on offer.
Because fantasy NASCAR does not attract nearly as many players as, say fantasy football, it is critical to play at a fantasy site with a large userbase in order to find contests on a regular basis and prize pools that make it all worth your while. FanDuel and DraftKings are the only two sites that can properly support fantasy NASCAR by those standards and are therefore the only two DFS providers we recommend.
The large userbase at each site can support some very large NASCAR contests with large prize pools. For example, it is not uncommon at all to find regular weekend events awarding $200,000+ in prizes.
Fantasy NASCAR As a Legal Alternative to Sports Betting
Fantasy NASCAR contests work pretty well as an alternative to actual sports betting for our readers whose states have not yet legalized online sportsbooks. The similarities between fantasy NASCAR and full-fledged sports betting are numerous, both in terms of the experience and in practical matters.
For example, fantasy sports and actual betting both make every race much more interesting simply because you have some skin in the game.
Watching a race with nothing on the line is fine, but it is a whole different experience when one of the drivers in your lineup is on the verge of overtaking the competition to push you into a sizable payout. When you have real money on the line, every turn of every lap takes on greater weight.
On the more practical side, the mechanics of fantasy NASCAR contests really aren’t all that different than betting on a race. In both instances, you’ll be researching drivers and looking for value in an effort to score a real money payout. The difference is that in sports betting you’ll be looking for odds that provide value while in fantasy sports, you’ll be looking for driver salaries that provide value.
In some ways, fantasy NASCAR offers more nuance than regular sports betting. Your results in both are heavily impacted by picking the race winner of course, but fantasy NASCAR scoring rules also reward players for choosing drivers who complete more laps, lead more laps and who finish with a strong place differential.
The skills you develop playing fantasy NASCAR will also serve you well when your state gets around to legalizing real sports betting. The research that goes into choosing drivers, evaluating the track and comparing drivers to the competition all translates very well into placing smart wagers at a real sportsbook.