Nevada has a reputation as a gambling mecca, though horseplayers are limited in their choice of providers by the state’s strict gaming regulations.
Because Nevada gambling laws are designed to protect the state’s major gambling operators, many providers of advance-deposit wagering – including the four biggest providers, TVG.com, TwinSpires.com, NYRABets.com, and XpressBet.com – do not accept customers from Nevada.
Horseplayers instead must open accounts with the casino companies in the state that offer to bet on horse races, such as Stations Casinos and Boyd Gaming.
You must be 21 or older to bet on horses in Nevada.
Nevada Horse Betting Overview
The Silver State famously was the first U.S. state to embrace gambling, taking the plunge in 1931 as its dominant mining industry was tanking at the outset of the Great Depression.
Gambling quickly exploded, turning Las Vegas into a national destination. Organized crime, which had plenty of experience administering illegal gambling games, also moved in and assumed control of some of the most luxurious new casinos springing up in the desert.
Racebooks in casinos and some separate betting parlors allowed bettors to play horse races, though in the early years they were unable to watch the contests and had to wait for results to arrive by telegraph.
The availability of live races changed for the good in 1978, when Congress passed the Interstate Horseracing Act allowing betting on the simultaneous broadcasting (which became known as simulcasting) of horse races between states. Suddenly televised races were seemingly in every casino, with dozens of TVs showing live action from around the U.S.
The craze did not extend to efforts to establish live racing in the state, however.
Entrepreneurs made three separate attempts to establish a horse racing track in the Las Vegas Valley, with disastrous results. Lavish Las Vegas Park opened in 1953 and closed after just 13 days of thoroughbred racing and a second failed to meet with quarter horses the following year. Thunderbird Downs, a racetrack constructed alongside the long-gone Thunderbird Hotel, ran thoroughbred and quarter horse from 1963-66 before shutting. A third effort occurred in 1981 when members of the Funk family from Florida opened a track along the intersection of Boulder Highway and Racetrack Road in nearby Henderson. It, too, folded a short time later when “the city of Henderson started foreclosure proceedings after demanding back payments of more than $364,000,” according to GamingToday.
Some counties in northern and central Nevada have hosted short fair racing meetings over the years, though only two remain: The White Pine County races in Ely typically run a three-day meet in late August, followed by the six-day Elko County Fair meet the following two weekends.
Fun fact about gambling in Nevada
While almost every form of gambling is available in Nevada, one of the most common games is not. Lotteries are banned by the Nevada Constitution. There have been numerous attempts to change the law, but the Nevada Resorts Association, which represents most of the state’s casinos, has consistently opposed such a change. It maintains that a state-run lottery would pull revenue away from resorts in Nevada that provide jobs to thousands and pay a substantial chunk of the state’s tax dollars.
Popular horse racing events to bet on in Nevada
- White Pine Horse Races
- The Kentucky Derby
- Belmont Stakes
- Preakness Stakes
- Breeders’ Cup
- Royal Ascot
- Cheltenham Festival
- Travers Stakes
- Santa Anita Handicap
- Arkansas Derby
- Pacific Classic Stakes
- Haskell Invitational
- Dubai World Cup
- Melbourne Cup
- Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
- Grand National
Horse Race Tracks in Nevada
- Elko County Fair
- White Pine Raceway
Currently, there are no racetracks operating in Nevada, but the state does host the occasional meet.
The White Pine County Fair in Ely hosts three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) of racing every August.
Elko County Fair is held in early September and usually coincides with Labor Day Weekend.
No, the minimum betting wagering age in Nevada is 21.
Yes, Nevada allows horse racing betting online and through several mobile apps. Nevada residents can download certain mobile horse betting apps and register in person at one of the state’s legal casinos.
No, TVG does not operate in the state.
No, the BetMGM Horse Racing App is not allowed in Nevada. It’s available In Ohio, Florida, and Louisiana.