The sport of horse racing has been popular for generations, and betting on horse racing isn’t much more recent. What is fairly recent is the ability to bet on horse races at online racebooks. These have a number of benefits, not least of which is the ability to bet on races from the comfort of your own home!
Introduction to Online Racebooks
In this guide to online racebooks we will explain all you need to know about betting on horses. But without stepping foot near a racetrack. We’ll tell you which states allow online racebooks to operate and which are likely to do so in the future. You’ll be given an overview of the huge range of races that you can bet on - local, national and international. And of the types of bets that you can place.
When all of that has been covered, you’ll learn how to choose between online racebooks. As well as how to sign up with one or more, as you prefer. In fact, about the only thing we can’t do here is pick winners on your behalf. We’ll leave that up to you!
What Are Online Racebooks?
Online racebooks are places where you can bet on horse races without having to visit a racetrack in person. Just as online casinos let you play games such as roulette and blackjack simply by visiting them on your computer or smartphone, so online racebooks let you place horse racing bets.
Why Use Online Racebooks?
There are several good reasons to use online racebooks, and we’ve just mentioned the first of them, which is convenience. Online racebook betting is much more convenient than betting at the track because you don’t actually have to go anywhere. All you have to do is get online and place your bets!
Another advantage of online racebooks is that they tend to offer many more betting opportunities than their trackside counterparts. As well as allowing you to bet on local races that are taking place in your state, they also enable you to bet on races in other states. And even on races that are being staged in other countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom and even Saudi Arabia!
Yet a third advantage of online racebooks is that they can help you to obtain better odds about your selections. If you live in a state where two or more racebooks are in operation, you can check as many as you want to see which of them are offering the most generous odds. You can then get into the habit of taking the best price on a regular basis. This increases your chances of making a profit over the long term.
How Online Racebook Betting Works
From a practical perspective, online racebook betting is much the same as betting at the track. Find a race that you want to bet on and decide which horse you think will win. Then then enter the amount you want to wager on a virtual bet slip. Confirm the details and submit the bet, and the wagered sum will be deducted from your online racebook account. If your bet wins, your profit (and returned stake) will automatically be credited back to your account within minutes of the result being declared.
Online Racebooks in the USA
While online sports betting is only legal in a handful of states, online racebook betting is allowed in the majority of states. Take a look at the table below and if your state is included then you should be able to bet at online racebooks without a problem. How many racebooks there are to choose from in any given state will of course vary.
It should also be noted that not all states which allow online racebook betting have exactly the same rules. Many will allow you to be on all horse racing events, whilst others may have some restrictions in place. For this reason, and because the law can change from time to time, you should always check the legalities of betting in your state (or any state that you plan to visit) before placing a wager.
What About Other States?
Online betting is becoming more widespread. So there is always hope that online racebooks will be legalized in more states in the future. If your state currently doesn’t allow online racebook betting, you may simply have to be patient and wait for the law to be changed.
Three of the Best Online Racebooks
Not all states will give bettors the exact same range of choice when it comes to online racebooks. Some will give you access to several, and a few states won’t allow any to operate. You should therefore make the most of whatever racebooks you have access to. However, here are three of the best that we would be happy to recommend to anyone.
The AmWager Racebook was launched in 2009. It has markets for more than 1,000 horse racing events every day. Plus other markets for those who also like greyhound racing. Video streaming of races gives you the benefit of being able to watch your selections in real time. This racebook also offers a generous bonus for newcomers. See our AmWager Racebook Review for more details.
One of the most famous online racebooks is TVG. This has been around since 1999. It brings you all the action from more than 150 tracks, including many from around the world. With live streaming, a generous deposit bonus, ongoing promotions and support for mobile betting, this is an operator that is well worth checking out. Find out more by taking a look at our TVG Racebook Review.
This is the official racebook partner of the Kentucky Derby, and has been operational since 2006. Covering races across the USA and overseas, Twinspires Racebook has everything that a fan of horse racing betting will need. This includes a solid welcome bonus, live streaming and plenty of information that you can use to help you make your selections. Our Twinspires Racebook Review explains more.
What Do You Need to Bet with Online Racebooks?
The equipment needed to bet with online racebooks is fairly minimal. If you are reading this text on a computer or mobile device of your own, you’re almost good to go. You can use any reasonably modern device that allows you to access the internet as and when you please.
Whether you use WiFi, a mobile data plan or a wired connection is irrelevant. All that matters is that you can get online and navigate to your desired racebook website or download any required app to your mobile phone.
What Races Are Covered?
All online racebooks in the US exist to give bettors the widest range of betting opportunities possible. For that reason, they all tend to offer betting markets for local, national and international horse racing events. As far as international events are concerned, betting markets will differ from operator to operator, but you can normally expect all of the biggest ones to be covered. Here are some of the most notable events to look out for:
Breeders’ Cup World Championships
The Breeders’ Cup World Championships is a Grade 1 racing festival held over two days every year. These championships take place in different locations from year to year, but all except one have been in the US. The only exception was in 1996, when the event was staged in Canada.
Dubai World Cup
As its name suggests, this is a Group 1 race which takes place in the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The first race was held in 1996 and it now boasts a purse worth a staggering $12 million. It is usually run on the last Saturday in March.
The Epsom Derby is the richest horse race in Britain. This is a Group 1 flat race which is staged in early June at the Epsom Downs racecourse in the South-East of England. First run in 1780, this historic race (also known in the UK simply as The Derby) attracts runners from around the world.
One of the most famous races in the world, the Kentucky Derby takes place at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, every May. This Grade 1 race was first run in 1875 over a distance of 12 furlongs, but that distance was changed to its current 10 furlongs in 1896.
Pegasus World Cup
The Pegasus World Cup was first run in 2017 with a purse of $12 million. At the time, that made it the richest horse race in the world, and $16 million was offered in 2018. However, the purse has been reduced twice since then, allowing the Dubai World Cup to reclaim its ‘richest’ status. This Grade 1 race is held annually in January.
First run in 1839, the Grand National is Europe’s richest jump race. It takes place over a distance of 4 miles 514 yards at the Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England. Known for its challenging jumps, including the infamous Beechers Brook, this race is held every April.
Held on the last Sunday of November each year, the Japan Cup is another Group 1 race which attracts runners from around the world. The race began in 1981 and takes place at the Tokyo Racecourse in Fuchu, Tokyo.
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
Without doubt the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is the most famous horse race to take place on French soil. This annual event first took place in 1920 and carries a purse of €3 million. The race is held at Longchamp Racecourse in Paris, France.
There are many other big races that we could talk about here, including The Everest, the Melbourne Cup and the Sheema Classic. But by now you get the idea. Online racebook betting can give you access to a gloriously wide world of horse racing action all year round.
What Bets Can be Placed with Online Racebooks?
We have said that online racebooks cover horse racing events at local, national and international levels, but what kind of bets can be placed online? The short answer is any kind of bet that you can place at the racetrack, and more. Of course, the exact range will depend on the racebook you are visiting and the state you are betting in, but typically you can expect the following bets to be available as a bare minimum:
The Win Bet
The win bet is a simple and straightforward bet on which horse you think will win a race outright. Each runner will be offered at different odds according to how the racebook views its chances and the number of people betting on it. If the odds available about your chosen selection are acceptable to you, striking a bet only requires you to add it to your betting slip, along with your stake. Submit the bet and if your selection wins, so will your bet.
The Place Bet
You might sometimes spot a horse that you think has a fair chance of winning its race, but you don’t feel confident enough to make a win bet. In this case a place bet might be more suitable. This is a bet that your selection will finish in first or second place, and if the horse obliges, your bet will win.
Because a place bet gives a horse two chances of helping your bet to succeed instead of just one, the odds for a place bet will be less generous than those for the outright win.
The Show Bet
For selections which you think have a fair chance of being at one of the first across the line, the show bet is another option to consider. A bet that a horse will show means that it will finish in first, second or third place. This means that your bet has three ways to win, and so the odds offered for the show bet will be even less than those offered for the place.
Show bets tend to be most popular on relatively high-priced outsiders, as those can pay well even at the reduced odds that show bets offer. This type of bet is also used quite commonly in parlay bets, as we will discuss shortly.
When you have been studying horse racing for some time, you may well get to the point where you are able to predict not only the winners of many races, but also the main dangers. The Exacta bet (known as a Straight Forecast in the UK) gives you a chance to cash in on that ability by asking you to predict the first two horses past the post in the right order. This is a much harder bet to win with than any of the others we have mentioned, but the odds for success are also much higher.
The Reverse Exacta
Also known as the Exacta Box, this is actually two Exacta bets in one. As with the Exacta, you select two horses which you think will finish in first and second place. Each of the two bets in the Reverse Exacta names those two selections in a different order. You will therefore get a return if both of your horses are first and second past the post, but the order in which they do so is irrelevant.
Even more ambitious than the Exacta bet is the Trifecta. This is a bet in which you predict which horses will finish in first, second and third place, in the correct order. Make no mistake, this is a very difficult bet to win with, but the odds paid for success can be fantastic. We’re talking about winning thousands of times your stake in many cases, so this is a bet which many people like to make with a very modest stake as a way of adding a little extra excitement to a race.
The final type of bet that we will mention here is the parlay. This is really a bet that several different events will result as predicted. In the world of horse racing, it could involve you choosing a horse to win in each of three, four, five, or even more races.
Perhaps the main appeal of parlay bets is that they can help you land big wins. That’s because the odds of each winner are multiplied together in sequence to determine the overall return. Five winners at odds of even money would therefore give you a return of 32 times your stake (2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 32).
The downside of a parlay bet is that all of your chosen selections need to succeed in order for the bet to win. If one or more of your selections fails to meet your expectations, the whole bet is lost.
Bonuses and Promotions at Online Racebooks
While there aren’t as many dedicated online racebooks as there are general online sportsbooks, the ones that do exist are still operating in a competitive marketplace. All racebooks want horse racing bettors to choose them, and so they like to sweeten the deal by offering a variety of bonuses and promotions. The most common ones that you are likely to come across are detailed below.
Deposit Bonuses are offered to those bettors who make a deposit into an online racebook account. Most often they reward the making of a first deposit with a stated percentage of bonus funds, up to a specified maximum. For example, you might be offered a 100% bonus on your first deposit, up to $100. In this case, making a deposit of $50 would get you a $50 bonus, and making a $100 deposit would get you the maximum $100 bonus.
Some racebooks might offer you a risk-free bet up to a maximum amount. Here you would make a deposit and place your first bet. If that bet wins, no bonus would be payable. However, if your first bet loses, your lost stake would be refunded to you as free bet credits, up to the stated maximum.
Specific Bet Promotions
You may also come across promotions that relate to specific types of bets. For example, many racebooks like to encourage parlay bettors by offering a bonus on a winning parlay that could increase winnings by 5%, 10% or even more. Others might refund a parlay stake if just one horse lets you down.
Specific Event Promotions
As you saw earlier, the horse racing calendar has plenty of particularly big events to look forward to. Racebooks often like to draw attention to these by offering event-specific promotions. Examples might include them paying out for an additional place in the Grand National or refunding your stake if your selection gets beaten in a photo finish.
How to Get Started with Online Racebooks
It should be clear by now that online racebooks have plenty to offer, so how exactly do you get started with one? You’ll be pleased to hear that it’s actually very easy, and involves just a few basic steps:
Choose a Racebook
Sign Up for an Account
Download any software or app that may be required
Make a Deposit
To make the process even easier, let’s explore each step in a little more detail.
How to Choose an Online Racebook
In some states this is actually a bit too easy, because there isn't much choice. If you happen to live in a state where there is just one online racebook operating, your only course of action is to settle for that until the situation changes.
If you live in a state which gives you a bit more choice then you need to consider the available options more carefully. First, take a look at the licensing of all racebooks and eliminate any that aren’t legal in your state. Then explore the types of races that are covered and the betting markets you can choose from.
Those of you who only want to bet on national racing will probably find that any online racebook will suit your needs. However, if you know that you will want to bet on racing from around the world, or view races in real time via live streaming, it makes sense to check that a racebook offers those things before signing up.
Should all other things be equal, consider the bonuses and promotions that are being offered. If two similar racebooks both offer a bonus on your first deposit, go with the one that is currently being the most generous.
Also, if you haven’t done so already, take a little time to consult our online racebook reviews. These are designed to give you all the information you need to make an educated decision in a fraction of the time it would take you to do the research for yourself.
How to Sign Up with Online Racebooks
The next step after choosing an online racebook that suits your needs is to sign up for a new account. This is usually a very easy task, and involves little more than visiting the racebook site, clicking a REGISTER or NEW ACCOUNT button and completing a simple online form.
In order to comply with the law, all online racebooks will require your name, address, email address and various other personal details. This is so that the racebook can verify your identity and ensure that you aren’t underage or otherwise forbidden from betting.
When you have provided all of the information needed - it takes just a minute or two - click the submit button and your account will be up and running.
How to Download Online Racebook Apps
Many online racebooks allow you to bet via their website using a regular desktop or laptop computer, and also via a purpose-built app on your phone. If the latter option is available, you will usually find full instructions on how to download and use the app on the main racebook website. In most cases it’s a simple matter of downloading the app from your usual app store (or in some cases from the website itself) and giving your phone permission to install the software automatically. When you’re done, simply launch the app, log in and you can bet on the move.
How to Make a Deposit at an Online Racebook
Of course, before you can make a horse racing bet, you first need some cash in your account. Fortunately, making a first deposit is as easy as you could want it to be. All you have to do is head to the banking area of the website or app, choose the deposit method you want to use, enter the amount you want to deposit and click a button to confirm the transaction.
Online racebooks offer numerous deposit options, including credit cards, debit cards, e-wallets and more. Credit cards can charge you for gambling deposits, so those are best avoided if at all possible. Use a reliable e-wallet alternative and you’ll normally be able to deposit funds without paying anything in the way of charges.
How to Withdraw Your Winnings
Withdrawing some or all of your betting profits from your account is also very straightforward. Most methods that are used for making a deposit can also be used for withdrawals. This is especially so with e-wallets. Using e-wallets also means that the time required for your withdrawal to be processed is kept to a minimum. Most e-wallet withdrawals can be processed fairly instantly, but other methods may require you to wait a few days before the cash reaches your bank account.
Online Racebooks FAQ
What is the legal age for betting at online racebooks?
The minimum legal age for betting with most online racebooks in the US is 21.
What is the over-round (vigorish)?
The over-round (or vigorish) is the percentage that a racebook builds into each betting market in order to give itself a profit. The greater the over-round, the less value you are getting as a bettor.
How many online racebooks can I join?
As long as you are of legal age, you can join as many online racebooks as you want. This is useful to know, because it means you can potentially benefit from bonuses at two or more racebooks. You can also join a racebook in other states that you might need to visit from time to time if you also want to bet there.
What’s the biggest horse race in the world?
The biggest annual horse race in the world according to the amount of prize money on offer is the Dubai World Cup, with a purse of $12 million.
What online racebook is the best?
The best online racebook will vary according to the needs of the bettor. However, in general terms the best racebooks are widely considered to be the TVG Racebook, the AmWager Racebook and the Twinspires Racebook.
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