Betting on Horse Races

Horse racing is one of the most popular sports in the world. It’s also one of the oldest, with records indicating that some form of horse racing took place as far back as Ancient Greece, Egypt, Syria and Babylon.

Chariot racing ruled the day in Greece. While that still exists to a degree, the most popular form of horse racing these days is called flat racing. Some other popular formats are steeplechasing, harness racing and endurance racing.

The concept of flat racing is simple. Most tracks are flat and oval shaped, though some tracks, particularly in Europe, may vary. Most tracks in Europe will use a turf surface, but dirt tracks are more common in North America and Asia.

What should you know if you’re interested in getting in on the world of live betting on horse racing?

You Have to Act Quickly

If you’re reading this, you’re likely quite familiar with the concept of live betting. A live bet is a bet placed after a game or contest has already started. Considering most horse races last a handful of minutes at most, you have to be quick on the trigger if you want to place a live bet during a race.

For example, the winner of the Kentucky Derby typically finishes the race in about two minutes. That doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to make a decision and then go through the process of placing a bet. You have to identify your horse or horses, state your dollar risk, set your type of wager and submit in the matter of seconds.

Be Aware of External Factors

Despite the relatively short amount of time that a race is actually in progress, there is still plenty that can change instantly that affects the way a race will play out.

The most obvious factor is weather. Rain can wreak havoc on a track, particularly a dirt surface. Certain horses may also be better equipped to deal with harsh conditions than others. Doing your research on how certain horses have fared given different weather conditions in the past is key when evaluating how you should approach a race as a bettor.

If you’re following along from your home or some place that isn’t the actual track itself, you need to make sure you have a strong live data and video feed at your disposal. Otherwise, you could miss something crucial that screws everything up for you.

In the unfortunate event that a horse comes up lame, obviously the field will narrow and you’ll have a better chance of nailing your winning pick or picks. Odds will certainly change to reflect the new standings.

The Internet’s advent has been a huge factor in the progress that live gambling has made in a relatively short period of time. Now that you can find a stream of just about any race anywhere in the world from the comfort of your couch nowadays, you’re essentially free to bet as much as you want.


As is the case when placing a bet on any sport, heavy preparation is required. You don’t want to under-prepare and then get caught with your pants down once odds change, a horse goes down or weather affects the track. So, having a broad base of knowledge regarding different horses, tracks, jockeys and track records is pivotal.

It’s even more important if you’re placing a live bet, because you’re essentially having to process information in just seconds before making a snap decision. If a horse has a knack for falling behind early before rallying in the race’s latter stages, perhaps he (or she) makes for a solid come-from-behind bet once the odds get longer.

Live betting with just one horse involved is complicated enough, but if you’re feeling particularly bold you could place a live exotic wager. This, of course, involves multiple horses placing in a certain order. This is a good means of increasing your profit potential, but obviously you need more outcomes to go your way, otherwise the bet busts completely.

Exacta? Superfecta? Trifecta? Quinella? If you’re truly ambitious and feel like you have a firm grasp on how a race is going to play out as it happens you can take these bold dives.


Obviously, the legality of placing a live bet on a horse race depends on where you are. Some states in the USA will allow gambling on Indian Territories, but nowhere else. Horse racing is often an exemption due to the fact that it is a sport that doesn’t provide many easy cheating opportunities for bettors and books alike.

Betting on races is encouraged at most tracks, but what about if you’re wanting to get in on the action via the Internet? Fortunately, most states do allow some form of betting on horse racing. Due to the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978, tracks were allowed to broadcast their races to other locations and accept bets.

In 2000, the law was amended to accept wagers via phone and the Internet, as well. While other games, such as poker and betting on other sports, was outlawed with the passage of the Unlawful Internet Enforcement Gaming Act of 2006, horse racing was omitted.

Of course, your state must agree to allow interstate betting on horse racing. Laws in some states are rather complicated. This is true in Connecticut, where bettors are allowed to bet on races online, though they may only do so through a specific website. Laws change all the time, but as of March 2017, the following states do not allow betting on horse racing online:

On the flip side, you may legally bet on horse racing via the Internet in the following states:


Live betting on horse races is an exciting way of getting in on the action, but you really need to have your ducks in a row if you want to be successful in doing so with horse racing. You have a tiny window of opportunity in a given race, so being fully prepared and evaluating the vast array of possible outcomes before placing a bet is incredibly important.

The Internet certainly makes the process much more simple, but it still requires quick thinking and the ability to process information on short notice.

Read About Betting on Other Sports