It should come as no surprise that horse racing and betting are abundant in Kentucky — the cradle of the U.S. thoroughbred racing industry — but many people are unaware that the Bluegrass State has some of the most restrictive laws in the nation on other forms of gambling.
The state’s laws authorizing parimutuel wagering on horse races extend to the online realm, with the big four providers of advance deposit wagering (ADW) – TVG.com, TwinSpires.com, NYRABets.com, and XpressBet.com – all offering service to Kentucky residents, along with a number of smaller operators.
These sites offer a wide array of bonuses to induce you to sign up, so shop around to find the best deal for your level of play.
Apart from “historic racing machines” — slot-machine-type devices that are based on replays of horse races or dog races that have already been run – the state allows no other form of gambling in which money changes hands.
You must be 18 or older to place online horse bets in Kentucky.
Kentucky Horse Race Betting Sites & Offers
|Racebooks||Welcome Offer for Kentucky||Other Promos|
|Xpressbet||$100 sign-up bonus||XB Rewards loyalty program|
|TVG||Get up to $200 back||Get a $25 Bonus for every friend you refer|
|TwinSpires||$200 sign-up offer||Free play daily & weekly options|
|Nyra Bets||$200 deposit match||Odds boosters, daily offers|
|123bet||$1230 new member bonus||Refer-a-Friend bonus: get $50|
|1/ST BET||$100 sign-up bonus||Rewards points every Tuesday and other weekly offers|
|AmWager||$300 deposit match||Daily cash rewards|
|DRF||Get a $200 bonus on the first deposit||Earn up to $50 every week|
How to claim a horse racing bet promo in Kentucky?
Horse racing betting features for Kentucky
- Nyra Bets Kentucky 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 Kentucky 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 Kentucky 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 Kentucky 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
- AmWager Kentucky Features:
- Current and historical horse race results from a single screen
- Advanced wagering structuring tools. Dutching, ABC method, Rank betting.
- Fair Value Exacta Grid (allows you to quickly see exacta bets that have been over bet or under bet based on the win pool)
- DRF Kentucky Features:
- Unlimited DRF Classic and Formulator Past Performances
- Free Beyer Speed Figures
- Free DRF expert picks
- 1/ST Bet Kentucky 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
- 123bet Kentucky Features:
- No fees Friday (deposit $10 or more on Fridays via credit card or Paynearme)
- Loyalty Reward Points
- Handicapping products from Equibase (available only on the web)
Horse bet types available online
In Kentucky, 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)
- Win Place (places a win and a place bet in one bet)
- Win Show (places a win and show bet in one bet)
- Win Place Show (aka “across the board”; combines Win, Place, and Show into one bet)
- 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)
- Super High 5 (you have to choose the winner of five races in a row)
- Grand Slam (pick a horse to finish in the top three in three straight races, capped by the winner of the fourth race in the sequence)
- Parlays (combine multiple selections on the same ticket, even if the races aren’t in sequential order).
- Credit and Debit Cards
- ACH Bank Transfer / eCheck
- Wire Transfer
- Green Dot
- Check or Money Order
- By mail: Xpressbet
- Bitcoin: AmWager via BitPay
Kentucky Horse Betting Overview
Horse racing in the commonwealth dates to the 18th century when horse breeders and farmers built tracks to settle their “my horse is faster than yours” arguments.
The Lexington Association Track was the first organized racing association in the state in 1787, but it took nearly 100 years before the construction of what remains the state’s racing jewel: Churchill Downs in Louisville, home of the most iconic American race, the Kentucky Derby.
Kentucky is the top U.S. state for thoroughbred breeding, its bucolic thoroughbred farms having produced slightly over 60 percent of all foals bred in the country in 2021. And while it is best known for thoroughbreds, it also is home to numerous standardbred and American Saddlebred breeders.
It provides plenty of opportunities for those horses to race. As of 2022, the state will be home to eight racetracks, five for thoroughbreds— Churchill Downs; Ellis Park in Henderson; Keeneland in Lexington; Kentucky Downs in Franklin; and Turfway Park in Florence – and three for standardbred pacers and trotters – The Red Mile in Lexington; and two brand new tracks: Oak Grove Racing, scheduled to open in spring 2022 in Oak Grove, just across the state border from Nashville, Tennessee, and Cumberland Run, in the eastern Kentucky town of Corbin, which is expected to run its first meet in mid-October.
It also has harness racing at some county fairs.
Fun fact about horse racing in Kentucky
Shelbyville, Kentucky is considered the “American Saddlebred Capital of the World.” The breed, popular for show and pleasure riding, was once known as the “Kentucky Saddler” and was frequently favored by officers during the Civil War.
Popular horse racing events to bet on in Kentucky
- The Kentucky Derby
- Kentucky Oaks Day
- Arlington Million Day
- The Ellis Park Derby
- The Ashland Stakes
- Turf Mile Stakes
- Belmont Stakes
- Preakness Stakes
- Breeders’ Cup
- Travers Stakes
- Dubai World Cup
- Melbourne Cup
- Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
- Grand National
Horse Race Tracks in Kentucky
- Churchill Downs in Louisville
- Ellis Park in Henderson
- Keeneland in Lexington
- Kentucky Downs in Franklin
- Turfway Park in Florence
- The Red Mile in Lexington
- Oak Grove Racing in Oak Grove
- Cumberland Run in Corbin
Turfway Park will open its new gaming facility featuring 840 historical horse racing machines to guests in September 2022.
Yes, you can. 18 years is the minimum gambling age in Kentucky for playing online and at any of the state’s racetracks.
All the big four providers TVG.com, TwinSpires.com, NYRABets.com, and XpressBet.com operate in Kentucky.
Yes, but not from Kentucky. The BetMGM Horse Racing App is not allowed in Kentucky. It’s available In Ohio, Florida, and Louisiana. So if you are a resident of these three states, you can bet online on the Kentucky Derby.