The Kentucky Derby is the biggest horse race of the year in North America and one of the biggest in the world. In some parts of the United States, the Kentucky Derby is treated almost like a holiday complete with people taking off work, hosting watch parties and (of course) betting on who will win it this year.
Betting and horse racing are intimately intertwined, and the Kentucky Derby is one of the most extreme examples of this. Last year, the Kentucky Derby attracted nearly $140 million in total wagers from legal, trackable sources just in the USA. If we consider underground and overseas betting, it is likely several hundred million dollars exchange hands around this one race alone every year.
Best Betting Sites for the 2018 Kentucky Derby
Those lucky enough to attend the 2018 Kentucky Derby in person are far from the only people who will be betting on the race this year. No matter where you live, there is a way to bet on the Kentucky Derby. Whether you live in the United States or anywhere else in the world, you can bet on the Kentucky Derby online and watch this year’s race with something on the line.
The best website to bet on the Kentucky Derby is different if you live in the United States versus anywhere else in the world, so we’ll tackle this subject in two stages. Let’s begin with our horse racing fans in the USA.
If you live anywhere else, click here to skip down to the relevant portion of today’s post.
Best USA Betting Sites for the Kentucky Derby
Our readers in the USA have two sets of options when it comes to betting on the Kentucky Derby online.
First, you can go with a local betting site that is headquartered, licensed and 100% legal in the United States. Horse racing betting is one of the few forms of online gaming in the USA where is no legal grey area. Licensed betting sites such as BetAmerica and TwinSpires comply with all federal and state laws so there is no question regarding their legality.
The other option is to go with an offshore sportsbook that operates outside US jurisdiction. While these sites clearly break US law by offering wagers to US-based customers, they comply with the laws where they are located. The legality of being a customer and placing bets at these sites is more up in the air, but US law enforcement has shown zero interest in even attempting to build a case against someone for merely placing bets online.
Both options have their pros and cons, so the best option really depends on your priorities and needs.
I’ll be going into a good deal of detail below, but the bottom line is this: I recommend betting at an offshore sportsbook if you’d like to lock in your prices now and get a bigger welcome bonus. US-licensed websites are better for betting into the actual pool and getting paid at track odds, but you may only place bets at the starting price (whatever that ends up being).
Let’s start with a quick comparison chart and then explain it all below.
|Offshore Betting Sites: Best Option||US Legal Racebooks: Second Best Option|
Betting on the Kentucky Derby at an Offshore Sportsbook
It is true offshore sportsbooks such as Bovada and BetOnline operate on questionable legal grounds, but they do have their advantages for customers. Some offshore sportsbooks have been in operation for going on 20 years now; there are reasons they are still going strong to this day.
The advantages of going with offshore USA-friendly betting sites include:
- Fixed odds betting available: Offshore sportsbooks can take early bets on the outcome of the Kentucky Derby at odd they fix in place. This means you know exactly how much you stand to win and can lock in your price ahead of time. US-licensed betting sites do not allow fixed-odds betting.
- Available in almost all states: Offshore sportsbooks do not comply with or consider themselves bound by US law and therefore accept customers from almost every state in the USA. Individual sportsbooks may have a couple of state restrictions for their own reasons, but the vast majority of the adult US population can visit offshore racebooks to bet on the Kentucky Derby online.
- More types of bets on offer: US-legal racing betting sites are highly regulated and may only offer parimutuel-style wagers on a limited number of markets. Offshore betting sites have much greater flexibility to offer different types of wagers. For example, Bovada this year is taking a bet on whether the 2018 Kentucky Derby crowd will be greater than or less than last year’s crowd of 158,070 attendees.
- Race rebates: Offshore sportsbook BetOnline.ag offers a daily 7% rebate on all horse racing bets placed online, win or lose. This means if you bet $100 on the Kentucky Derby, you’ll get back $7 whether you end up ahead or behind afterwards. Over time, these race rebates can add up to a significant sum.
Of course, offshore sportsbooks also have some disadvantages:
- Legally questionable: Offshore sportsbooks operate contrary to US law and are at risk of being shut down or otherwise disrupted by the US government. This can put customers’ funds at risk. It is unclear if it is legal to bet online with these sites, but generally the law is believed to only apply to operators.
- Does not support local racing industry: Bets placed with offshore sportsbooks are not commingled with bets placed at the track, which means your wagering activity does not support the domestic horse racing industry.
- Fewer deposit/withdrawal options: Offshore sportsbooks do not have direct access to the American financial system and therefore struggle to process fast payments and payouts. The bigger sites such as Bovada and BetOnline do well and even accept credit card deposits, but usually customers have to wait for a check in the mail to get paid.
- Unregulated: The most important factor to consider when choosing an offshore horse racing site is its reputation among former customers. Offshore sportsbooks are not regulated at all. It is vital that you stick with long-term sites that have a proven track record for security.
Betting at a US-Legal Site
There are three major advantages to betting at a site such as BetAmerica or TwinSpires that is licensed in the USA:
- 100% Legal: Unlike other forms of online betting, horse racing does not operate in murky legal waters. When you bet at a licensed racebook, there are absolutely no questions that it is 100% legal.
- Based in the USA: It’s nice doing business with sites that are based in the USA because you know they must adhere to US law and there is legal recourse if something goes wrong. You also get all the benefits of knowing these sites are regulated and monitored by local licensing authorities.
- Paid at full track odds: One of the best things about betting at a US-licensed racebook is that all wagers taken online are pooled with the wagers taken at the track. This creates bigger betting pools and also ensures that you will be paid at full track odds – the same as if you would have placed the bet in-person at the track.
- Easy deposits and withdrawal: Because these sites are legal and licensed, financial firms are not afraid to work with them in order to process transactions for customers. Thus, it is much faster and easier to make deposits and receive withdrawals at US-licensed sites than it is at offshore sportsbooks.
If you have the option to bet on the 2018 Kentucky Derby at a licensed betting site, this is a solid choice as well. These are legitimate, US-based businesses and all wagers you place through these sites help support the domestic horse racing industry.
However, there are a couple of disadvantages associated with US-legal sites:
- No fixed-odds betting: US-licensed sites are 100% parimutuel, which means your payout odds are determined by the wagering market. This in turn means you do not know the exact odds until the race goes off.
- Not available in all states: Federal law permits online horse racing betting, but states are able to regulate the activity as they see fit. Online racing betting is only permitted in 35 states. Residents of the other 15 states are just out of luck.
Best Kentucky Derby Betting Sites for Everyone Else
Our readers who live in the rest of the world have many more options as far as choosing where to bet online. Racebets.com, ComeOn and William Hill are just a few of the many dozens of licensed, reputable and safe betting sites our international readers have at their disposal.
In fact, those are my three top picks for anyone interested in betting on the 2018 Kentucky Derby from anywhere outside the United States. These three sites hold licenses from the demanding UK Gambling Commission but are authorized to take wagers from many other countries as well.
Top Pick: Racebets.com
As the name suggests, Racebets.com specializes in the Kentucky Derby. Not only does Racebets.com cover the Kentucky Derby, but it also covers an entire world of horse racing with daily coverage of tracks in the UK, the greater European region, North America, Australia, Hong Kong and more.
Racebets is currently taking fixed-odds Kentucky Derby wagers online. You can see the full list of entries at the Racebets website, but here’s a quick look at the top 10 as of 29 April:
|Justify: 7/2||Mendelssohn: 9/2||Audible: 6/1||Magnum Moon: 8/1||Bolt d’Oro: 9/1|
|Good Magic: 11/1||Vino Rosso: 16/1||Hofburg: 18/1||Noble Indy: 20/1||Enticed: 25/1|
Racebets.com is also one of my favorites for promotional offerings. If you visit the Racebets.com homepage and then click on “offers,” you’ll see a whole page full of promotions that add a lot of value to your time there. Any time I’m in need of a boost, Racebets.com is the first place I check.
Second Pick: ComeOn.com
ComeOn.com will be covering the Kentucky Derby as well and has already posted early odds on all anticipated runners. The promotional offerings at ComeOn are not quite as numerous as those at Racebets, but ComeOn is still a solid place when it comes to getting extra value for your action.
The latest odds on the top 10 runners at ComeOn.com as of 29 April are:
|Mendelssohn: 4/1||Justify: 9/2||Audible: 6/1||Magnum Moon: 8/1||Bolt d’Oro: 9/1|
|Good Magic: 11/1||Vino Rosso: 16/1||Hofburg: 16/1||Solomini: 22/1||Noble Indy: 22/1|
Third Pick: William Hill
William Hill is just a solid all-around bookmaker whose roots date all the way back to 1934. Very few bookmakers today come even close to William Hill in terms of history and experience. The promotional offering is a little weaker here than at Racebets or ComeOn, but William Hill does still offer a few special promotions for horse racing that you may want to consider.
Here are the odds on the top 10 Kentucky Derby runners as of 29 April at William Hill:
|Mendelssohn: 7/2||Justify: 4/1||Audible: 7/1||Magnum Moon: 9/1||Bolt d’Oro: 10/1|
|Good Magic: 12/1||Hofburg: 14/1||Vino Rosso: 16/1||Solomini: 20/1||Enticed: 25/1|