Online horse racing betting is legal in many parts of the world and contributes significantly to the international racing industry as a whole. In addition to being convenient, horse racing betting sites boost local purses and grant access to races that would otherwise be out of reach for most fans.
The horse betting sites recommended on this page are licensed, legal and represent the best brands in the industry. OnlineBettingSites.com experts review, compare and study the best mobile racebooks in countries around the world.
Below are our top picks for the best horse racing betting sites on the international stage:
So, what do we look for in a racebook? Number one (as always) is the legitimacy and overall reputation of each operator.
We list brands that have a verifiable history of processing wagers, paying out winners, and hosting fair bets.
Second-most important for us is the breadth of coverage. One of the primary reasons people even bet on horses or dogs online is because it grants access to a greater variety of tracks and races.
That’s the basic overview of why we pick some online racebook sites over others. There are other factors related to overall quality and ease-of-use, but those are the major factors.
Read on to learn a little more about what it’s like to use a website to bet on horse racing and greyhounds.
Online Horse Racing Betting
Horse racing is one of the few sports in the world that actively endorse gambling. Without the betting action that accompanies nearly every race, there would be little incentive for tracks to remain open.
Our horse racing betting guide offers all the basics you need to get started with betting and on the road to winning.
Types of Horse Racing Bets
Just looking at how many different types of horse bets there are can make the whole thing seem way more complicated than it really is. The main thing to remember is that the general idea is always to somehow predict the final order of the horses. There’s a different name for every wager, but none of the basic wagers are excessively complicated.
The simplest horse bets tend to be the most popular. The more complicated bets involve picking multiple horses and structuring the wager so there are multiple ways to win. The latter look complicated at first but they start to make more sense once you have a handle on the simpler wagers. Here’s how they all work:
- Win: This is the most basic horse racing wager. You pick one horse and you get paid if that horse crosses the finish line first.
- Place: The place bet can have different meanings depending on what country you are in. In North America, a place bet means betting on a horse to finish either first or second. In other parts of the world, the bet pays out if the horse finishes within a predetermined number of places.
- Show: A bet on one horse to finish in first, second or third. It doesn’t matter which place the horse finishes in as long as it’s somewhere in the top three.
- Each Way: This one is a combination of the win bet and a place bet. Basically half your bet is on the horse to win, and the other half of your bet is on the horse to finish in the places. If your selection wins the race, then both parts of the wager get paid out. If your horse does not win but does finish in the places then just the second half of your bet gets paid out.
- Across the Board: The ATB bet is just a combination of the win, place and show bets all placed on one horse. If your pick finishes first, the entire ATB bet wins. If your horse finishes second, you only get paid for the place and show portions of the wager. If your selection finishes third, only the show bet is paid.
- Forecast / Exacta: You pick two horses take first and second place in that order. This bet only wins if the horses you pick finish in the exact order that you specify.
- Reverse Forecast / Reverse Exacta / Quinella: This bet has all kinds of names, but it’s just a wager where you pick two horses to take first and second place. The order in which they finish doesn’t matter. As long as your two horses take the top two spots, you win.
- Tricast / Trifecta: Your goal in the trifecta is to pick three horses to finish in first, second and third place in that exact order. Doing so is a tall order, but the payouts are very generous.
- Reverse Tricast / Reverse Trifecta: Pick three horses to take first, second and third but finishing order does not matter. As long as your three picks somehow account for 1st 2nd and 3rd place, you win.
- Lay: A lay bet is where you are effectively backing against a horse to win a race. If you place a lay bet on a horse and it doesn’t win, you get paid. This bet rarely pays much.
- Double: The double bet involves making two selections for horses to win separate races. Both horses must win their respective races for you to get paid out with this bet. You can also place each way doubles, which means both horses need to at least finish “in the places” for your wager to pay out.
- Treble or Pick 3: This one has you select the first place finishers in three separate horse races. You must get all three right for your wager to win. You can also place each way trebles.
- Accumulator / Parlay: You make multiple selections across multiple races but only get paid if every single prediction is correct. The more predictions you make in a single parlay bet, the more it pays. Parlays are very difficult to win but offer some of the biggest payouts in online horse racing betting.
Parimutuel vs. Fixed Odds Betting
Broadly speaking, horse racing betting comes in two flavours:
- Tote (Parimutuel) Wagering
- Fixed Odds Betting
Parimutuel or Tote Betting
Tote (parimutuel) wagering works by pooling wagers together, taking out a fee for the track and then paying out the winners with what remains. The odds are therefore determined entirely by the total amount of action taken in for each type of bet.
As a result, the payout odds in parimutuel wagering remain fluid until the event closes for betting. As new money comes in, the odds are updated in real time. Racing fans may have a general idea of what to expect, but the odds are not set in stone until the last wager has been accepted.
This explains why favourites pay less than unpopular longshots. When more people bet on the favourite, the pool is divided up among a larger number of winners. Likewise, when someone wagers on a longshot, the payout odds are higher because the pool will be split among a smaller number of winning bets.
Tote wagers placed online are often pooled with wagers taken at the track. As money comes in from all sources, the payout odds for all punters shift up and down. Parimutuel wagers placed online are usually pooled with wagers taken at the track.
Fixed-odds horse racing betting functions in the same manner as wagering on other sports. Rather than payouts being determined by pooling all wagers together, fixed-odds betting payouts are manually determined by the betting site.
Some punters prefer fixed-odds horse racing betting because the final payout odds are known in advance and the price is locked in. This can work for or against the punter if the odds on a horse shorten or lengthen after the wager has been placed.
Fixed-odds wagers are not pooled with wagers taken at the track. Each fixed-odds wager is treated as an independent contract between the bookmaker and the punter.
Types of Horses and Races
The following terms all describe either specific types of horses or types of races. An understanding of these terms will make it significantly easier to navigate the world of horse betting.
- Thoroughbreds – There are two forms of thoroughbred racing that may be found on horse betting websites. Flat racing refers to a thoroughbred race over a certain distance where the track is completely flat. Jump racing is a form of thoroughbred racing where the horse and jockey must clear hurdles along the track.
- Quarterhorses – Quarter Horses have been used in races, farming, herding and even battle. You will find some quarter horse racing online, but it is not nearly as popular as thoroughbred racing.
- Standardbreds – Standardbreds specialize in harness racing. Australia and Canada are noted for their strong Standardbred racing industries.
- Maiden Race – Maiden races are reserved for horses that have not yet won a race. Likewise, a maiden horse is a horse that has not yet won a race. Maiden races are generally seen as a starting point for a horse’s career.
- Claiming Race – Every horse in a claiming race is for sale and can be “claimed” before the race. Prospective buyers put in a request before the race and become the new owner of the horse at the end of the race, regardless of the outcome. Odds are at least half the races at your local track fall in this category.
- Allowance Race – Allowance races come with predetermined amounts of weight assigned to each horse based on its achievements, age, sex and other factors for the purpose of making each race competitive. Allowance horse races are considered one step up from claiming races and usually have larger purses.
- Stakes Race – Stakes races are the most prestigious races. These are where the best horses go to win the largest purses. Local stakes races feature horses bred locally while graded stakes races accept horses from other parts of the country or world. There are three different grades that are assigned to these types of races: Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3. Grade 1 races are the most prestigious and feature six or seven-figure purses.
- Endurance Races – Endurance horse races are performed with a jockey over long distances. Endurance racing is not performed inside of a stadium; rather, it takes place through wilderness and on set trails. Endurance races can sometimes take several days to complete, which makes the anticipation much greater.
- Derby – There are a few different definitions for the term “derby” but it most often refers to major annual horse races open to 3-year-olds only.
Horse Racing Events Around the World
Horse racing takes place on a daily basis across the world at hundreds of different race courses.
Dedicated horse racing bettors will generally look through most race cards every day to try and find stand out bets that offer the most value.
Every year, there are prestigious and glamorous major horse races that attract huge audiences.
Winning any major horse race, such as those mentioned below, is the pinnacle of achievement for any race horse owner, trainer or jockey.
One of the most famous horse races in the world is the Grand National. This steeplechase race is run over fences, hurdles and ditches and takes place once a year at the Aintree course in Liverpool, England. Even people who rarely bet will have a wager on the National once a year.
In the US, the Kentucky Derby is the biggest race of the year. Together with the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, these three races form The Triple Crown and all attract a great deal of interest across the world. The Breeders’ Cup races are also of huge importance to the American racing fraternity.
Major Horse Races in the United States
The most famous US horse racing events are the three that make up the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, namely the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes, and the Preakness Stakes.
Any horse that wins all three of these races in one calendar year is known as a Triple Crown winner, a feat that has only been achieved by eleven horses in history.
- Kentucky Derby: The Kentucky Derby is the first of the Triple Crown series, and is held on the first Saturday in May at the Churchill Downs course in Louisville. The race is run over 1 ¼ miles, and was first ran in 1875. It is often referred to as The Run for The Roses which is a reference to the blanket of roses which is draped over the winning horse.
- Preakness Stakes: Next up is the Preakness Stakes which is run over nine-and-a-half furlongs at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The Preakness Stakes is run on the third Saturday in May and is typically the second most-watched horse race of the year in America, behind the Kentucky Derby.
- Belmont Stakes: The third and final leg of the Triple Crown is the Belmont Stakes. This is always run three weeks after the Preakness Stakes and takes place at Belmont Park in Elmont in New York. It is the oldest established of these three classics having first been run back in 1867. It is also run over the greatest distance at 1 ½ miles.
- Kentucky Oaks: The Kentucky Oaks is for fillies and is run the day before the Kentucky Derby each year.
- Breeders’ Cup: The Breeders’ Cup Classic is the biggest race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which is held at a different racetrack each year. It offers one of the biggest purses in world horse racing at $5 million.
Major Horse Races in the United Kingdom
Horse racing in the UK has hundreds of years of history and has a fanatical following. There are two distinct types of racing in the UK – flat racing and jump racing. Traditionally, races are run over turf but there are also a number of all-weather tracks in the UK these days. There are around 60 racecourses in the United Kingdom, the oldest being Chester racecourse which is nearly 500 years old.
- Grand National: The most famous race in the UK is the Grand National, a National Hunt race that is known the world over. The Grand National is held every year at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England over 4 miles and 856 yards, usually on one of the first two Saturdays in April. Racehorses taking part in the Grand National have to jump thirty fences over two circuits of the course and it is a race famed for many fallers.
- Cheltenham Festival: The Cheltenham Festival is among the most celebrated race meets on the National Hunt racing calendar. This four-day festival takes place annually at the Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire, England. The pinnacle of the festival is the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which is run on the final day.
- Epsom Derby: The Epsom Derby, generally referred to in the UK as just The Derby, is the most prestigious of the British Classics. The British Classics consist of five flat races, each of which is held annually. The other four races which make up the group are the 2000 Guineas Stakes, the 1000 Guineas Stakes, the Epsom Oaks and the St. Leger Stakes.
- Epsom Oaks: Also held at Epsom Downs during June is the Epsom Oaks, another of the British Classics. The Epsom Oaks was first held the year before the inaugural Derby and was won by Bridget. Bridget was owned by the 12th Earl of Derby, after whom the Epsom Derby was named. The Epsom Oaks is open to three year old fillies and is run over a distance of just over 1 mile and 4 furlongs.
- British Classics: The first two British Classics of the year are held at Newmarket. The 2,000 Guineas Stakes comes first – run over exactly one mile and open to three year old colts and fillies. The 1,000 Guineas Stakes is next, also run over one mile but open to fillies only. The fifth, and final, of the British Classics is the St. Leger Stakes, held at Doncaster in England.
Major Horse Races in Europe
European horse races are among the most prestigious in the world and are steeped in History. Some of the more noteworthy races held in Europe each year include the following:
- Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe: The Arc is held every October at ParisLongchamp Racecourse in Paris. The Arc is one of the most prestigious racing events in all of Europe and boasts a purse of €5 million.
- Grand Prix de Paris: Also held at Longchamp is the Grand Prix de Paris, a Grade 1 flat race contested by three-year-old colts and fillies over 2,400 meters each July.
- Irish Grand National: The Irish Grand National is the main event of the annual Easter Festival at Fairyhouse and takes place every Easter Monday. This is the richest Jump race in Ireland with a purse of €500,000.
- Punchestown Gold Cup: In late April or Early May each year, Punchestown hosts the Grade 1 National Hunt Gold Cup with a €300,000 purse up for grabs.
- Irish Derby: The €1.5 million Irish Derby is run in late June or early July each year at the Curragh, featuring three-year-old thoroughbreds and reigning as Ireland’s top flat race.
- Irish Oaks: The Irish Oaks is another major flat race held at the Curragh each July with prize money of €400,000.
Major Horse Races in Australia
Horse racing is a very popular spectator sport in Australia and the country is considered one of the top racing nations in the world. With a phenomenal 360 racecourses across Australia, horse racing is the third most attended sport in the country.
- Melbourne Cup: The most popular race in Australia by quite some margin is the Melbourne Cup, often referred to as “the race that stops a nation”. It is one of the richest turf races in the world and is held at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. The Melbourne Cup is open to three year olds and over and is run over a distance of 3,200 meters. It is held annually on the first Tuesday in November.
- Australian Derby: The Australian Derby is held annually in Sydney at the Randwick Racecourse. This turf race takes place in late March or early April.
- Australian Oaks: Also held at Randwick Racecourse is the ATC Australian Oaks. This horse race is contested over 2,400 meters and is open to three year old fillies. It takes place in April as part of the Sydney autumn racing carnival. The Australian Cup, run at Flemington Racecourse, takes place the month before in March. It is run over 2,000 metres and has been established since 1861.
- The Everest: The Everest is run every October at Randwick and boasts the richest purse in all of turf racing with $15 million in prize money.
Major Horse Races in Asia and the Middle East
The Asian and Middle East regions are home to very rich horse racing betting opportunities and some of the world’s biggest races. China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and the United Arab Emirates all have regular horse racing calendars and the sport maintains a large fan base throughout both regions.
In particular, these are the biggest races in both regions:
- Dubai World Cup: Established in 1996, the Dubai World Cup is run annually at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, UAE. It features an impressive purse of $12 million, runs 2,000 meters each March and attracts some of the world’s most successful horses.
- Japan Cup: Each November, the 2,400-meter Japan Cup caps the horse racing season and boasts one of the richest purses in all of horse racing with more than $5 million in prize money.
- Dubai Sheema Classic: Each March, the $6 million Sheema Cup runs on Dubai World Cup night as one of the richest turf races on the planet.
- Dubai Turf: The Dubai Turf also sits near the top of the turf racing hierarchy with a purse of $6 million. This race is run on Dubai World Cup Night each March.
- Saudi Cup: The Saudi Cup held its inaugural race in 2020 and, with a purse of $20 million on offer, immediately catapulted to the top position in the list of the world’s richest horse races.
Online Greyhound Racing Betting
Greyhound racing has much in common with equestrian racing. All the same types of bets that you could place at a horse track are also found at any dog track. Both sports also share a similar relationship with gambling.
Without betting, greyhound racing would be severely underfunded and most tracks would have to close.
The greatest difference between the two sports is greyhound racing’s lack of jockeys. The lack of a jockey makes it simpler to analyze dog races. The outcome depends entirely on each dog’s individual performance. Some people may call greyhound racing “less sophisticated,” but we like to call it “still just as much fun.”
Watch Races Online
All the major racing betting websites stream live races in real time on their websites. The racing industry has a cozy relationship with online gambling and most major tracks are happy to share their races with betting sites.
What this means for you is you can place a bet on your favorite horse and then watch it run in real time right before your eyes.
Streaming races is a great way to watch the action, even on mobile devices.
Horse Racing Betting Bonuses
With so many racing betting sites on the market, competition has increased to attract and retain customers.
Nearly all racing betting sites offer some sort of cash bonus to all new customers. In most cases, the offer comes in the form of a percentage match bonus. Match rates of 50% and more are common. Some sites are even giving out 100% deposit bonuses that double your first deposit.
You sign up and deposit $100, for example, and get an extra $100 on top of that. The vast majority of racing deposit bonuses are exclusive to new players only.
Racebook Loyalty Rewards Programs
Most racing betting loyalty rewards and “VIP” programs work around the premise of rewarding you based on your betting action. The more you bet, the bigger the rewards.
Some of the things you can expect to receive from a racebook loyalty program would include discounts on handicapping products, invitations to special events, birthday gifts, free withdrawals and short-term cashback promotions.
US Racing Betting
Horse and greyhound racing both received exemptions from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA). The legislation targeted sports betting, casino games and poker but it specifically granted exemptions to the law.
This means online horse and greyhound racing are legal at the federal level in the US and that each state may choose whether or not to authorize mobile racing betting. Many states, even those that have not yet legalized sports betting, allow racing betting.
The major US racing betting sites operate on US soil in full compliance with all state and federal laws. Racing fans in most states can visit any of our recommended sites to sign up for an account and bet online. If you live in a state that does not allow online racing betting, you will be notified upon attempting to sign up.