Is Horse Racing Betting Legal in All US States?

Given that horse racing is the third most popular sport in terms of betting in America, it is obvious why many people want to jump on the train and make a million-dollar wager.

Well, slow down your horses – horse betting is not legal in all of the US states, and you might get in trouble if you decide to place a bet.

With that said, according to history, only a small number of people were charged for illegal online gambling and there is a good reason for that. Officials don’t have the manpower to chase people that are placing online bets and they are usually more focused on stopping big gambling companies from allowing people to bet in these certain states.

Over the years, some states have started to soften their rules and regulations on online gambling, and especially horses just because it is a big business in the US and they want to be a part of it.

If we go in our time machine and travel back to the 1900s we can find that this was the time where modern-day horse racing betting was established. This time where the famous Kentucky derby was born, and the state of Kentucky formally legalized the pari-mutuel horse racing betting system.

Shortly after that, New York and Maryland decided to join and the revolution of betting in the US started.

Since horse racing is a very popular sport in the United States, the betting industry has a profound economic impact on the states. That’s why many government officials are trying to work around the issue and find a way to legalize online sports betting.

In a recent analysis, experts found that the Horse Racing Tracks industry clears over $3 billion in revenue per year, and they employ more than 16,000 people. Remember, these numbers are only for the racetracks located in the United States.

On a national scale, the number of horse enthusiasts is increasing every year. Last year, people wager roughly $11 billion on horse racing and this trend will continue to increase. This shows that the horse racing betting industry is slowly stabilizing after a period of economic uncertainty.

With that said, it is beneficial to find out more about how can you bet legally on horse racing depending on your specific state of residence. Usually, there are a couple of options to choose from such as betting on racetracks, off-track betting (OTB) locations, or the most popular option, online racebooks.

Even though horse racing is legal in 41 out of 50 states, there is still a difference between states with legal sports racing and their support for the ponies.

States Where Horse Racing Betting is Legal

One of the most interesting things about horse racing is the ability to bet on a horse or jockey and watch a two-minute action as you cheer for your favorite. It is safe to say that horse racing isn’t the same without betting, which is why we decided to highlight some of the states where you can enjoy a great day on the local racecourse and wager some money.

States where horse racing betting is legal:

Alabama* Arizona Arkansas California Colorado
Connecticut* Delaware Florida Idaho Illinois
Indiana Iowa Kentucky Louisiana Maine
Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Missouri**
Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey
New Mexico New York North Carolina* North Dakota Ohio
Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island* South Dakota**
Tennessee Texas Virginia Washington West Virginia


As we mentioned before, there are differences in terms of rules and regulations between the states and how they see horse racing betting. You can check here for example the specific legislation for the state of Michigan:

All the states with (*) there are no physical horse racing tracks, but people are allowed to place bets on off-track betting locations.

All the states with (**) there are temporary horse racing tracks. But even though there are no permanent horse tracks in the state, off-track betting is still available.

As time goes by, states are starting to realize the benefit of horse racing betting and they are trying to make horse racing legal. Currently, Georgia and South Carolina are in the procedure of making horse racing legal, and we expect more states to join them soon.

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