California is one of the premier states in the nation for horse racing and home to two of the nation’s elite racing venues – Del Mar and Santa Anita Park. California is also known as the “Great Race State.” In-person and online racing betting is legal in California.
Other legal forms of gambling in the state are cardrooms, tribal casinos, a state lottery, and charitable gaming. The state has been taking a go-slow approach to sports betting, but many observers expect it to be approved sometime in 2022.
California allows online betting on horse racing through advance deposit wagering (ADW) sites, and the four biggest operators – TwinSpires.com, TVG.com, Xpressbet.com, and NYRAbets.com – all accept customers from the Golden State, as do some smaller operators.
You must be at least 18 years old to bet on horse races online or at any of California’s racetracks and off-track betting locations.
California Horse Race Betting Sites & Offers
|Racebooks||Welcome Offer for California||Other Promos|
|TwinSpires||$200 sign-up offer||Free play daily & weekly options|
|Nyra Bets||$200 deposit match||Odds boosters, daily offers|
|TVG||Get up to $200 back||Get a $25 Bonus for every friend you refer|
|Xpressbet||$100 sign-up bonus||XB Rewards loyalty program|
|DRF||Get a $200 bonus on the first deposit||Earn an additional card for every $50 wagered|
|1/ST BET||$100 sign-up bonus||Rewards points every Tuesday and other weekly offers|
How to claim a horse racing bet promo in California?
Horse racing betting features for California
- Nyra Bets California Features:
- Free live video streaming (HD live and replay) on Thoroughbred, Harness, and Quarter horse racing and race replays nationwide
- Free handicapping tips
- Swap positions quickly for Exacta, Tri & Supers
- Weekly live money handicapping contests with cash prizes
- TVG California Features:
- TVG Expert Picks for everyday
- Free Past Performances Program
- Live streams from tracks around the US and beyond
- Money Back Special on select races
- TwinSpires California Features:
- First Race Freeplay: get $100 in Free Bets
- 15% boost on a winning Trifecta bet every Tuesday
- Exacta insurance: get a bet back of up to $10
- Live races and highlights of previous races, both on the website and the app
- Bet Back offers (receive a refund for your bet if the horse you bet on to win the race finishes in second or third)
- Daily Double bets
- Xpressbet California Features:
- Horse racing’s leading loyalty program (receive two XB Rewards Points for every dollar you wager)
- Cash prizes in regular handicapping contests
- Deposit by mail
- Bet the horse races over the phone
- DRF California Features:
- Unlimited DRF Classic and Formulator Past Performances
- Free Beyer Speed Figures
- Free DRF expert picks
- 1st/bet California Features:
- Up-to-date news about upcoming races
- Unlimited access to the BETMIX products: Toteboarding, Free Daily Race Analysis, and ‘Race of the Day’ Past Performance
Horse bet types available online
In California, you can place different types of horse wagers. The most popular online bets are
- Win (the horse you bet on must come first)
- Place (the horse must finish first or second)
- Show (the horse must come either first, second, or third)
- Exacta (you bet on horses to come first and second in that order)
- Quinella (the same as exacta, but horses can finish in any order for you to win the bet)
- Trifecta (three horses should finish first, second and third in that order)
- Superfecta (the same as trifecta but here you bet on four horses)
- Pick-5 (you have to choose the winner of five races in a row)
- Grand Slam – Pick a horse to finish in the top three straight races, capped by the winner of the fourth race in the sequence.
- Credit and Debit Cards
- ACH Bank Transfer / eCheck
- Wire Transfer
- Green Dot
- Check or Money Order
- By mail: Xpressbet
California Horse Betting Overview
The top thoroughbred tracks in the state are in the south.
Santa Anita, founded in 1934 in Arcadia, near Los Angeles, races much of the year, beginning with its traditional winter-spring meet opening the day after Christmas and continuing through late June, and a shorter fall meets in October. Known as “The Great Race Place,” it hosts many high-profile races, including the Santa Anita Handicap (aka the “Big ‘Cap”) and the Santa Anita Derby, an essential prep for the Kentucky Derby.
Del Mar, which opened in 1937 lies farther south, about 20 miles north of San Diego, in one of the most picturesque racetrack locations, just off the Pacific Ocean. It is typically open for racing from mid-July through early September and from early November into early December. Its signature race is the Pacific Classic.
Golden Gate Fields in the San Francisco Bay Area and five fair racetracks in Ferndale, Fresno, Pleasanton, Sacramento, and Santa Rosa also conduct thoroughbred racing, with the latter also featuring some contests for quarter horses and other breeds.
Los Alamitos Race Course in Orange County completes the state’s healthy live menu, offering quarter horse racing almost year-round and three short thoroughbred meetings from late June to early July, in September, and in December.
Fun fact about horse racing in California
Movie money played a role in founding both Del Mar and Santa Anita, with crooner-actor Bing Crosby and actor Pat O’Brien both among the original co-owners of Del Mar and famed producer Hal Roach putting up some of the money to build Santa Anita at its current location.
Popular horse racing events to bet on in California
- Del Mar
- The Santa Anita Derby
- The Pacific Classic
- Sunshine Millions Day
- The Kentucky Derby
- Preakness Stakes
- Belmont Stakes
- California Governor’s Cup
- Sam Spear Memorial
- Dubai World Cup
- Melbourne Cup
- Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
- Grand National
Horse Race Tracks in California
- Cal Expo
- Del Mar
- Golden Gate Fields
- Los Alamitos
- Santa Anita
California is home to five racetracks and more than two dozen off-track betting parlors (OTBs). Every horse racing track in the state has a rich history and some of the largest horse stakes races in the US.
Yes, you can. 18 years is the minimum gambling age in California for playing online and at any of the state’s racetracks.
Yes, OTB is legal in California. Californians can enjoy live satellite horse racing and on-site wagering, all year long at over 30 exciting off-track betting outlets such as fairs at Fresno, Lancaster, Monterey, San Jose, and many others.
No, the BetMGM Horse Racing App is not allowed in California. It’s available In Ohio, Florida, and Louisiana.