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Is online horse racing betting legal in Pennsylvania? Guide to PA wagering

The Inquirer has all of the information you need to know if you’ve asked the question of “Is horse racing betting legal in Pennsylvania?”

Horse racing betting is legal in PA, and the Inquirer has more information on that subject for readers below. (Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Horse racing betting is legal in PA, and the Inquirer has more information on that subject for readers below. (Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto)Read moreWirestock / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Horse racing betting is legal in more than 40 U.S. states, including Pennsylvania. Those in Pennsylvania are able to bet on horse races online through platforms like Twinspires or at horse racing facilities.

Because horse racing uses a “pari-mutuel” betting system, it wasn’t subject to many of the same scrutiny and prohibitive laws as sports betting. In horse racing betting, you’re wagering directly against other bettors into a “pool” and not against the “house” like you do in sports betting.

We’ll go into more detail below about what options you have at your disposal whether you’re looking to wager online or in person.

Guide to Pennsylvania horse racing betting

Is horse racing betting legal in PA?

Wagering on horse racing in Pennsylvania has been legal since 1959. Legalization occurred when the Race Horse Industry Reform Act was passed by the state legislature.

When this act was passed, only harness racing was permitted to be wagered on. Wagering on thoroughbred racing was legalized nine years later in 1968.

The Meadows Racetrack was the first track to open after the Horse Racing Industry Reform Act was passed. They opened in 1963 and are still operational in Pennsylvania to this day.

Penn National Race Course was one of the first tracks in Pennsylvania to open with thoroughbred racing.

In terms of online horse betting, that dates back to 1983, where Meadows Racetrack owners launched “Call-A-Bet.”

Horse racing has become incredibly popular in Pennsylvania, with six racetracks and four off track betting facilities being operational.

Additionally, there’s a plethora of horse racing betting sites for players to sign-up with and wager through online.

Best online horse racing betting sites in PA

1. TwinSpires

If you’re looking to use a platform that specializes in horse racing betting, look no further than TwinSpires. TwinSpires isn’t just available in Pennsylvania, as they’re available in over half of the U.S.

Their bonus code PIRACING is one of the biggest reasons they’re atop this list. You’ll receive a generous welcome bonus that nets you $100 worth of bonus bets for every $400 wagered up to $1,600.

This means you can earn a maximum of $400 in bonus bets if you wager the maximum amount of $1,600. The amount you wager will be tallied over the first 30 days.

When you look at the races slated for the day, you’ll see the winners’ purse, track distance, and racing surface all presented before you even click on the race to see the odds.

When you open the race’s odds, you’ll see plenty of information such as trainer and jockey records that can help educate you in placing the correct bet.

TwinSpires is a well-rounded platform, with live streaming and nearly flawless mobile app reviews on the Apple App Store to support their welcome offer.

2. FanDuel Racing

If you’ve never heard of FanDuel Racing, it’s likely because they’re not quite as advertised as FanDuel Sportsbook.

FanDuel Racing is FanDuel’s dedicated horse race betting site that can be accessed through FanDuel Sportsbook’s mobile app or the FanDuel Racing app.

Their welcome offer new customers can redeem is for a $500 no sweat first bet. This means your first wager up to $500 will be paid back in bonus bets if you lose. You can bet on the Preakness Stakes this weekend with this offer!

If you reside in CO, MA, IL, IN, LA, MD, MI, NC, NY, OH, PA, WV, AND WY, you’ll be able to redeem this offer and wager on FanDuel Racing or FanDuel Sportsbook.

If you live in AR, CA, DE, FL, KY, NH, NM, ND, OR, RI, SD, or VT, you must wager with FanDuel Racing, and don’t have access to FanDuel Sportsbook.

FanDuel Racing’s navigation is smooth, as they do a good job patterning their race book in a similar fashion to their sportsbook.

They even have the odds shown in U.S. form, meaning you can see odds in the form of +275 in addition to the likes of 11/4. That’s especially helpful if you’re new to horse wagering.

3. TVG

Even though TVG is owned by FanDuel, don’t let that fool you into thinking this horse racing betting site isn’t capable of standing out on it’s own as a go-to destination for new and experienced horse racing bettors alike.

TVG is available in a massive number of states and also offers live streaming as a result of their partnership with FanDuel.

TVG has a generous welcome offer for new customers, with their amount exceeding FanDuel’s.

Just click the offer module above to register for an account and you’ll receive your first single-horse win wager’s stake up to $200 back in bonus bets if you don’t win.

You can play TVG through desktop or mobile, as their mobile app has an astounding 4.8/5 star rating on the Apple App Store with over 28,000 reviews.

More perks TVG players will enjoy include a healthy number of promotions, such as refer a friend and having your deposit fee waived on certain days.

What are the six racetracks I can wager at in PA?

Penn National Race Course

Penn National Race Course is located in Grantville, PA, and is partnered with Hollywood Casino.

Presque Isle Downs

Presque Isle Downs is located in Erie, PA, and have their own casino as well as TwinSpires betting kiosks.

Parx Casino Racetrack

Located in Bensalem, PA, Parx Casino Racetrack is partnered with BetParx Casino.

Pocono Downs Racetrack

Mohegan Sun Pocono Casino houses Pocono Downs Racetrack in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino Racetrack

Housed in Chester, PA, Caesars Sportsbook is the casino partner for Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino Racetrack.

Hollywood Meadows Racetrack

The second track in PA to be partnered with Hollywood Casino is the Hollywood Meadows Racetrack located in Washington, PA.

What are the biggest Pennsylvania horse races?

On a national scale, the Triple Crown races are among most popular sporting events of the entire year to wager on. The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes make up the three most viewed horse races of the year.

But in Pennsylvania, there are a handful of major races that bring plenty of attention to the sport with big winner’s purses on the line.

Presque Isle Downs Mile

The Presque Isle Downs Mile offers the smallest purse of the races on this list at $250,000.

Pennsylvania Derby

Parx Casino Racetrack is a 1 1/16 mile track that holds this race yearly for a purse of $1 million.

Penn Mile

$500,000 is up for grabs during the annual Penn Mile which is held at Penn National Race Course.

Cotillion Stakes

The Cotillion Stakes is also held at Parx Racing Racetrack. The purse for this race is $1 million.

Where is horse race betting legal outside of PA?

More than half of U.S. states have legalized online sports betting in some capacity. But whether or not they’ve legalized wagering on horse racing is a different story.

Below are a list of states where it’s illegal to wager on horse racing:

Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington DC.

Horse racing betting in PA FAQs

What lengths are the horse racing tracks in PA?

  1. Parx Casino Racetrack: 1 1/16 mile

  2. Penn National Race Course: 1 mile

  3. Presque Isle Downs: 1 mile

  4. Hollywood Meadows Racetrack: 5/8 mile

  5. Pocono Downs Racetrack: 5/8 mile

  6. Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino Racetrack: 5/8 mile

Does Pennsylvania run more harness racing or thoroughbred racing?

Thoroughbred racing is more common in PA compared to harness racing, which takes place more overseas than in the U.S.

That said, PA runs its fair share of harness racing throughout the year to keep an eye out for.

Can I wager on horse races outside the country in PA?

Pennsylvania residents aren’t limited to exclusively wagering online on races taking place in the Keystone State. Players can wager on races across the country and overseas as well, as long as your horse racing betting site of choice has it.

Can I win real money wagering on horse racing online?

You can absolutely win real money wagering on horse racing whether it’s online or at a physical track. How much you win depends on what the odds of the bet you’re placing are and how much you wager.

It’s important to remember that winning is never guaranteed, and wagering on horse racing or any form of entertainment is meant be only for fun, not as a means to make steady income.

How long have people been betting on horse races?

Horse racing has been around for thousands of years, with wagering on horse races being traced back to the Greek Olympics in 700 B.C.

Betting on horse racing became prominent and popular in England during the 1600′s. As the years went on before the U.S. was founded, other countries such as France began capitalizing on sports betting.

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.