As more and more states legalize online betting, horse racing has seen its numbers booming.
Perhaps you too want to jump into the fun and start wagering on the action. But before you go online to any horse race betting sites for the first time, read this quick guide. That way, you know a few of the important basics before the horses hit the starting gate.
Understand the Odds
As a beginner, you will want to stick to what are called straight wagers. Straight wagers mean betting on a horse to win, place, or show.
Betting on a horse to win is exactly as it sounds. Place a bet, and if your horse wins, you win. What you win depends on that horse’s odds. So if you bet on a horse to win at 5-1 odds, you win $5 for every $1 you spend.
Note: You will often see the odds listed as dollar amounts instead of fractions (e.g., $3.20). This shows what your winnings would be on a $2 bet.
You can also bet on a horse to place (finish either 1st or 2nd) or show (finish within the top three). The odds and payoffs for these bets are not made public.
A bet for a horse to win is much riskier but has a higher payout. Betting on a horse to place or show involves much less risk but much less reward.
There are other types of bets available (often called “exotic wagers”), but these are not recommended for beginners.
Make Sure That Online Horse Betting Is Legal in Your State
Online horse betting is actually legal in many more states than other forms of online gambling. However, there are still a few states that do not allow it. There are almost 20 states with legal sports betting apps, but more than that permit horse race betting.
Generally, you do not have to be a resident of the state to place a bet; you simply need to be located within the state’s boundaries. So, sometimes people will cross the border to a neighboring state for a day of gambling fun. Remember, though, that you must be of legal gambling age in the state to bet.
If you bet when you are not allowed, you risk legal trouble. Even more likely, you will find yourself using an offshore betting site, which can be dangerous (see below).
Use Officially Licensed Sites/Apps
A trap that bettors might fall into is using an unlicensed site or app. Again, this is most common in states where betting on horses online is illegal, but it can certainly happen in other areas as well.
What is the big deal if you use an unlicensed site or app? Three issues:
- They are illegal.
- Because they are unlicensed, they could take your money but then never pay out if you win.
- These sites are notorious for not keeping your personal financial information secure.
All in all, these sites are not worth the risk. Stick to trusted and licensed names, such as TGV, TwinSpires, and BetAmerica. BetMGM, a trusted name in sports betting, is also launching its horse racing app in a few states, including New York and Ohio. BetMGM will also be launching an Ohio sports betting app as well.
Use the Research Available
While some people are fine with just randomly putting money down on a horse and hoping for the best, most prefer to have at least a little information to make the best decision.
Luckily, almost every reputable app/site has research tools at your fingertips. You can look at past performances and see how horses do on different length tracks, different surfaces, etc. Many use AI, or artificial intelligence, to offer advanced predictions of the day’s races.
Even if the app or site you are using does not contain this research, it should be readily available with some simple research on the web.
Create a Budget–and Stick to It
This last point can’t be emphasized enough. Betting on horses online can be a lot of fun, but it can also quickly spiral into something that causes financial hardship.
Therefore, make sure that you are setting a limit as to how much you are spending. That limit should be an amount where even if you lost it all–a very real possibility–you would not be in financial peril.
Of course, limits are only effective if you are able to stick to them, and betting online (where you can spend money with a simple click and not always realize how much until it’s too late) can make that difficult. If you are finding that sticking to your limits is challenging, please reach out for free, 100% confidential help.
Follow these simple tips, and you will have a lot of fun at the virtual racetrack!