Betting on horse racing is legal in Virginia. The state’s law allows residents to bet on horse and dog racing at off-track wagering facilities.
The four largest providers of legal online betting services known as advance-deposit wagering – TVG.com, TwinSpires.com, NYRABets.com, and Xpressbet.com – all accept customers from Virginia. There also is a homegrown service offered by the VEA called Virginiaracing.com, which helps fund purses and other racing-related activities in the state.
These sites offer a variety of signup bonuses and reward-for-play incentives, as well as a range of ancillary handicapping products, so it pays to shop around before deciding on a service.
You must be 18 or older to place online horse bets in Virginia.
Virginia Horse Race Betting Sites & Offers
|Racebooks||Welcome Offer for Virginia||Other Promos|
|Nyra Bets||$200 deposit match||Odds boosters, daily offers|
|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|
|Xpressbet||$100 sign-up bonus||XB Rewards loyalty program|
|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|
|FanDuel Racing||Get 100% bonus up to $50 + get a $10 Sportsbook credit||10% bonus on win bets|
|DRF||Get a $200 bonus on the first deposit||Earn up to $50 every week|
|Hollywoodraces.com||$200 Sign Up Bonus||WINsurance Offers: refund up to $20|
|Pointsbet||2 Risk-Free Bets up to $2,000||Free bets for points|
How to claim a horse racing bet promo in Virginia?
Horse racing betting features for Virginia
- Nyra Bets Virginia Features:
- Free live video streaming (HD live and replay)
- Free handicapping tips
- Swap positions quickly for Exacta, Tri & Supers
- Weekly live money handicapping contests with cash prizes
- TVG Virginia Features:
- TVG Expert Picks for everyday
- Free Past Performances Program
- Money Back Special on select races
- TwinSpires Virginia 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 Virginia 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 Virginia Features:
- Current and historical horse race results from a single screen
- Advanced wagering structuring tools. Dutching, ABC method, Rank betting.
- Fair Value Exacta Grid
- FanDuel Virginia Features:
- Cash in with Win Bet insurance
- Live streaming (+200 tracks around the world)
- Best bets of the day
- DRF Virginia Features:
- Unlimited DRF Classic and Formulator Past Performances
- Free Beyer Speed Figures
- Free DRF expert picks
- 1/ST Bet Virginia 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 Virginia 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)
- Hollywood Races Virginia Features:
- Free Expert Picks
- Loyalty program for top players (earn up to $200 in bonuses each week with the 2 VIP promotions).
Horse bet types available online
In Virginia, 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 a 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 & Hollywood Races
- Bitcoin: AmWager via BitPay
Virginia Horse Betting Overview
The colonists who settled what later became the Commonwealth of Virginia parted company early on with the anti-gambling Puritans who settled much of New England by maintaining English gambling traditions, including betting on horses.
That ethos extends to this day, as the state is home to three race meets offering parimutuel gambling and allows online betting on racing from other jurisdictions as well.
While the state’s first racehorses were owned by plantation owners and other wealthy individuals, watching and betting on races became a popular pastime for most residents of the Old Dominion State, according to the Virginiaplaces.org website.
They had a wide variety to choose from, ranging from 1/4-mile straight dashes held on open fields and straight sections of road – the original quarter horse races; to “best-of-three” challenges where horses would run separate races of up to 4 miles in one day; steeplechase races run across the countryside; races on roads with the contestants pulling drivers with wagons (the forerunner of modern harness races with standardbred horses); and on circular racecourses, with viewers seated in grandstands.
The state also developed into a leader in breeding racehorses before Kentucky took the reins. The most famous Virginia-bred racehorse is undoubtedly the great thoroughbred Secretariat, a son of Bold Ruler who was born and raised in Caroline County before he sweeps of the 1973 Triple Crown.
Thoroughbred racing in Virginia
Thoroughbred racing currently is conducted at Colonial Downs in New Kent, which typically races from early July to late August. The track was recently purchased by Churchill Downs Inc., owner of the Louisville, Kentucky, racetrack of the same name as well as many other tracks and casinos.
Harness racing in Virginia
Harness racing presented by the Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) generally occurs at Woodstock Racetrack, also known as Shenandoah Downs, in Woodstock from mid-September through mid-October.
Live steeplechase racing also takes place in single-day meets each October at Great Meadow Racecourse in Fauquier County and Glenwood Park in Middleburg. The former event, known as the Virginia International Gold Cup Races, includes parimutuel wagering.
Apart from wagering on horse racing, Virginia laws on gambling were fairly strict until recently, when the state added online sports betting to its state lottery.
Voters also approved brick-and-mortar casinos on Nov. 3, 2020, with the first temporary locations expected to open sometime in 2022. The state also has multiple Rosie’s Gaming Emporium outlets offering slot-machine-like historical racing machines that help support horse racing purses, including one at Colonial Downs.
Fun fact about horse racing in Virginia
In 1752, William Byrd III, the son of the founder of the city of Richmond, claimed he had the fastest horse in the colonies, prompting Benjamin Tasker Jr. to travel 150 miles from Maryland with his recently purchased mare Selima, a daughter of thoroughbred foundation sire the Godolphin Arabian, for a match race, according to Virginiaplaces.org.
Selima beat Byrd’s horse, plus a few other Virginia horses entered in the four-mile race.
Selima went on to become a highly-successful broodmare, while Byrd squandered so much money on gambling and bad investments that he ultimately committed suicide when he was unable to square his debts.
Popular horse racing events to bet on in Virginia
- Virginia Gold Cup
- Colonial Cup Stakes
- New Kent County Virginia Derby
- The Kentucky Derby
- Belmont Stakes
- Preakness Stakes
- Breeders’ Cup
- Royal Ascot
- Cheltenham Festival
- Travers Stakes
- Dubai World Cup
- Melbourne Cup
- Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
- Grand National
Horse Race Tracks in Virginia
- Colonial Downs
- Woodstock Racetrack, aka Shenandoah Downs
- Great Meadow Racecourse
- Glenwood Park
Virginia is home to three race meets offering parimutuel gambling and allows online betting on racing from other jurisdictions as well.
Yes, you can. 18 is the minimum gambling age in Virginia for playing online and at any of the state’s racetracks.
Yes, Virginia allows horse racing betting online and through mobile apps.
The four biggest horse racing betting sites offer services to Virginians, including TwinSpires.com, TVG.com, Xpressbet.com, and NyraBets.com along with some smaller online operators and betting apps like DRF or AmWager.
No, the BetMGM Horse Racing App is not allowed in Virginia. It’s available In Ohio, Florida, and Louisiana.
Yes, Off-track betting on horses is legal in Virginia. Residents of the state can enjoy simulcast racing in Richmond, Alberta, Hampton, Chesapeake, Vinton, etc.