Table of Contents

Ohio Horse Racing Betting in 2024

Table of Contents

Although horse racing betting has been legal in Ohio for almost a century, this framework does not apply for online purposes. Residents of the Buckeye state can still get in on the fun from the comfort of their home thanks to offshore sportsbooks.

We’ve examined dozens of Ohio betting sites that allow wagering on horse racing and determined which ones are the best options. 

Table of Contents

Is horse racing betting legal in Ohio?

Online horse racing betting became legal in the last few years. The first horse betting app was introduced in 2021.

Despite the legal status, most bettors prefer to use an offshore platform. These online betting sites provide legal access to a wide range of betting markets in addition to horse racing. They also provide bettors with the best odds in the online sports betting industry and some top-notch bonuses.

Horse Racing in Ohio FAQs

Ohio has a well-established horse racing industry. The state hosts both thoroughbred and harness racing at several tracks. One track alone, Northfield Park, holds live racing on more than 200 nights a year.

Ohio is home to six racetracks, which include Thistledown Racino, Mahoning Valley Race Course, Belterra Park, Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway, Scioto Downs and MGM Northfield Park.

Scioto Downs, located in Columbus, Ohio, hosts live harness racing. Their racing season typically runs from May to September.

DraftKings’ official racebook service, DK Horse, is not yet available in Ohio. Many players rely on offshore sites instead.

Cleveland has horse racing at JACK Thistledown Racino, located in North Randall, a suburb just outside the city. MGM Northfield Park is also near Cleveland.

Ranking the Top 10 Betting Sites for Horse Racing in Ohio

After rating dozens of sportsbook operators, our team of experts has decided on the following rankings for the 10 best horse racing betting sites in Ohio:

  1. BookMaker – Caters to all experience and skill levels of gamblers
  2. Heritage Sports – All horse racing bettors get VIP service
  3. Bovada – Strong loyalty program for horse racing gamblers
  4. BetOnline – Racebook rebate program leads the state
  5. BetAnySports – Known for reduced juice, also has horse race section
  6. BetUS – Video previews and picks for major races
  7. WagerWeb – Same-day Bitcoin payouts
  8. JustBet – Competitive fixed odds which are released early
  9. Everygame – Smooth user experience makes betting easy
  10. SportsBetting.ag – Large limits for fixed-odds betting

These online sportsbooks are all located offshore, which means they are outside the jurisdiction of the state of Ohio. They are subject to their own gambling laws and do not fall under U.S. jurisdiction at all.

Because of the different sports betting regulations, these online betting platforms allow more than just online horse betting. Players can also find legal sports wagering on both professional sports and college sports, as well as plenty of options at the online casinos.

While horse race betting is legal in Ohio, most other forms of online gambling are seriously limited for companies based in the state. Offshore sportsbooks allow you to do all forms of online gambling in one convenient place.

All the online sportsbooks on our list have a long history of safe, dependable gambling and can be trusted with your money and personal information. Plus, they’ll treat you fairly.

Reviewing the Best Ohio Horse Racing Betting Sites

Most of our top 10 horse racing betting sites use the same software to run their racebook. That means that the actual process of betting on races is similar, no matter where you go. However, top-rated sites set themselves apart with by offering competitive bonuses and promotions, fast, dependable payouts and elite customer service to Ohio bettors and bettors around the United States. 

Their lines and odds also differ. We break down what makes so special our picks for the best sportsbooks with detailed profiles below.

1. Caters to All Levels of Ohio Horse Players: BookMaker

BookMaker

Established 1996

Visit Bookmaker
9.5
Best For
Professional Bettor 9.0
Trust 9.5/10
Banking 8.6/10
Bonuses 8.2/10
Odds 9/10
Customer Service 9/10
Betting Limits 9.8/10
CURRENT PROMOTION
25% Cash Bonus

Key Features

Bookmaker.eu is our choice for the top horse racing gambling site in Ohio. It is one of the first racebooks to post odds, meaning you don’t need to sit around and wait to start breaking down a race. It’s a clean, easy-to-use site and offers a deep menu of domestic and international races each day.

BookMaker is known for catering to all levels of horse racing players, from experienced sharp bettors to novices trying it out for the first time. Limits are high and the site is known for not shutting down a gambler who gets on a winning roll.

Bettors will enjoy BookMaker’s promos like their rebate program, which returns 3% of all win, place and show bets on a daily basis. That goes up to 8% for more exotic bets. There’s no volume requirement or cap on how much you can earn and you’ll have access to one of the best loyalty programs in the industry.

2. Best Mobile Racebook in Ohio: Heritage Sports

Heritage Sports

Established 2001

Visit Heritage Sports
9.6
Best For
Seasoned Gambler 8.6
Trust 9.6/10
Banking 8.6/10
Bonuses 8.2/10
Odds 9/10
Customer Service 9/10
Betting Limits 9.7/10
CURRENT PROMOTION
25% Cash Bonus

Key Features

Heritage Sports comes in at No. 2. It originally was an invite-only gambling site, but it eventually gave in to popular demand and opened to everyone. Still, Heritage Sports tends to behave like it’s catering to VIPs, meaning its customer service and generous promotions are at an elite level.  

You’ll find Heritage’s mobile site very easy to use, as well. Plus, it has high limits and pays full track odds for most major racetracks. Speaking of which, users will have access to over 60 tracks with options for both standard and exotic betting markets.

Heritage also has a large selection of online casino games, as well as a reduced juice sportsbook, so you can use it for all your gambling needs, not just the horses.  

3. Top Notch Bonuses and Loyalty Program: Bovada

Bovada

Established 2011

Visit Bovada
9.9
Best For
Mobile Bettor 9.0
Trust 9.9/10
Banking 8.6/10
Bonuses 8.8/10
Odds 8.9/10
Customer Service 9/10
Betting Limits 9.8/10
CURRENT PROMOTION
75% Cash Bonus

Key Features

Bovada has a legion of devoted fans who swear by it for their betting needs, and it’s easy to see why. They offer a full casino experience on their website, with a high-level online racebook, one of the top sportsbooks around and the busiest poker room in the United States.

If you want to bet big, Bovada is a good place to start. It pays up to $100,000 on Triple Crown races and up to $30,000 on other big races on major tracks throughout the year. You’ll also find some novelty markets like virtual horse racing which allows you to bet on greyhounds and even camels.

Bovada’s welcome bonus for horse race players is outstanding. They match 75% of your deposit, up to $750, and the rollover requirement is far lower than at other competing sites. The promo codes at Bovada are top-notch and they also have an elite loyalty program for existing customers, allowing you to collect loyalty points for betting on sports and races.  

4. Top Racing Rebate Program in OH: BetOnline

BetOnline

Established 2001

Visit BetOnline
9.8
Best For
Bonus Hunter 8.5
Trust 9.8/10
Banking 8.6/10
Bonuses 8.8/10
Odds 9.2/10
Customer Service 9/10
Betting Limits 9.8/10
CURRENT PROMOTION
100% Free Play

Key Features

BetOnline is another leader for Ohio online gambling on horse racing. It has our favorite rebate program in the state. They give back 4% on straight horse racing bets and 9% on exotic bets. 

The site is also slick and easy to use, and it steps up its game for big races. BetOnline posts odds for Triple Crown and Breeders Cup futures, weeks in advance, and they’re usually better than odds you’ll find at other sites.

BetOnline promo codes come with plenty of variety. The site matches initial deposits up to $1,000 in bonus funds, but you can’t apply that to horse race bets. You’ll have to spend it on online sports wagering or casino games. However, there is a specific racebook promo as you do get a $25 risk-free horse bet for signing up.

5. Reduced Juice Sportsbook With Reliable Racebook: BetAnySports

BetAnySports

Established 2002

Visit BetAnySports
9.6
Best For
Seasoned Gambler 8.9
Trust 9.6/10
Banking 9/10
Bonuses 8.7/10
Odds 9.6/10
Customer Service 8.5/10
Betting Limits 9.8/10
CURRENT PROMOTION
30% Cash Bonus

Key Features

As its name implies, BetAnySports is best known for its sportsbook, but it also has a comprehensive horse racing section. The site offers reduced juice on sports betting lines, which gives gamblers a big discount and makes it easier to turn a profit.  

On the racing side, BetAnySports has races from around the world and sets its win limits high for gamblers willing to take a risk. They also offer a cash rebate program, returning 3% on straight bets and 6% on exotics. They pay out both winners and losers.

You can use BetAnySports’ welcome bonus in the racing section, which isn’t true at every site. They match 25% of your initial deposit, up to $500. There’s a low rollover requirement compared to the competition, but it also applies to your deposit, not just the bonus.

Comparing the Best Sites for Horse Racing in Ohio

Even though this is an evaluation of the top online horse racing betting sites in Ohio, we also took into consideration what else you could do at the sites. Most of the offshore sportsbook operators in our top 10 also offer more than just wagering on horse racing, including legal sports betting and online casinos.

The fact that they allow you to do everything in one place is a benefit, especially in a state like Ohio, where some of those other forms of gambling can’t be done with a site based in the state.  

That being said, the horse race betting experience at the various sites is what ultimately set them apart from the crowd. Here’s a look at some of the factors we evaluated when we came up with our rankings.  

Horse Racing Fixed Odds

Fixed-odds betting is still one of the most popular ways to wager on horse racing. We looked for sports betting operators that posted odds early, with plenty of advanced time for major races like the legs of the Triple Crown and the Breeders Cup Classic.

While many sites have similar betting odds, we looked for sites that consistently seemed to be better than average, although we strongly encourage gamblers to shop around a bit to find the best odds on the horse they want.

Horse Racing Betting Markets

We’ve generally separated horse race betting into two categories in this guide: Straight bets and exotics.  

A straight bet means you’re picking one horse in one race. You can bet on a horse to finish first (win), first or second (place) or first, second or third (show) in a race. The payout is obviously higher if you bet to win.

Exotics mean you’re betting on multiple horses, either in a single race or across several races.

Live Horse Racing Betting

Some sites offer simulcast racing programs so you can watch them online after making the bet. While high-profile races like the Triple Crown are easy to find on TV, simulcasts of horse races from less famous tracks may be difficult to follow without this feature.

Horse Racing Betting Promotions & Bonuses

Most horse racing sites offer some type of promotion to keep regular customers loyal to them. One of the most popular offers is a rebate program, where you get a portion of what you wager back.

Usually, exotic bets earn a higher percentage rebate than straight bets. Some sites also offer risk-free bets (or bonus bets) on occasion. If you win, you keep what you earned, but if you lose, the site returns your stake in the form of a free bet credit.

Horse Racing Welcome Bonus

Promotions for new users are standard for online racebooks. It could range from matching some bonus amount of your initial deposit to offering a free bet. Since the sites in our top 10 offer many services other than a racebook, the question of whether there’s a race-specific welcome bonus or whether the overall site bonus can be applied to the racebook, and sites differ on both.

Special Features for Horse Racing

Whether in person or online, picking winners at a racetrack takes some homework. The top betting sites in Ohio will help you with some of that work by providing tools to analyze the field.

Past performance information and other histories can be the difference between winning and losing a wager.

Some online horse betting sites like TVG and TwinSpires are among the best at providing these tools, but offshore sportsbooks also provide support in this area for their customers.

User-Friendly Design

Just from the sheer number of locations and races going on during any given day, it is important for a site to be user-friendly, to make it easy to find the race you’re looking for, or to browse all the action on a given date. It should be fast and easy to place bets, since time is sometimes an issue, and the mobile betting experience should be similar to the full-blown site on a computer.

Best Ohio Horse Racing Betting Sites

The list of traits above are ones where our top-rated online betting sites were able to distinguish themselves. Below, we discuss some “must haves” for a top horse racing betting site. Each of the members of our top 10 performs well in the following areas

Brand Reputation

Our choices for horse players in Ohio are sites that have been in business for a long time and have an extensive history of treating customers fairly and paying out on time and in full. Some sites are almost as old as the web, pushing three decades in the business. They all have a reputation of fairness and trustworthiness.

Payment Options

There should be a wide variety of banking methods available, from credit and debit card transactions to bank transfers, as well as e-wallets, like Skrill, and cryptocurrency banking options. Payments should be processed quickly and fees should be kept to a minimum. Similarly, payouts should be fast and easy, so you can collect your winnings.  

Safety & Security

Every racebook in our top 10 has a pristine safety record. If it didn’t, we’d remove it from our list immediately, and it would be a long time before it was even considered for inclusion again. You can rest assured that your money and personal information will be safe at any of the sites in our rankings.  

Speed & Ease of Use

You don’t want to miss out on a payday because your bet didn’t get in fast enough. With odds changing down to race time and information constantly becoming available, you need a betting site that is fast and easy to use, without the risk of pages crashing unexpectedly at the worst time.

Customer Service

If you have some type of problem, you want a site that will help you take care of it quickly and easily. Ideally, the top sites will offer 24/7 customer service in multiple languages. There should also be multiple ways to reach them, including phone, online chat and email. Wait times should be short and the agents should be professional and able to help you.

Overall Value

Value is a personal decision based on which of the many factors you put the most weight on. Some customers make purely financial decisions and go with a site that has the best promotions and bonuses and the most competitive odds. Others pay more attention to the non-racing options available at the site. You alone know which aspects are most important to you, but we’ve provided the information you need to make that decision. 

Ohio Horse Racing Betting Guide – Learn to Bet on Horse Races in Ohio

The best way to bet online on horse races in Ohio is through one of our top-rated A+ online betting sites. Topping our list was:

  • Bookmaker.eu
  • Heritage Sports
  • Bovada
  • BetOnline

In addition to racebooks, they have extensive sportsbooks, as well as online casino games. Legal sports betting sites also allow for wagering on esports, entertainment, and politics. Some of the sites also have online poker rooms.

Ohio Horse Racing – What Bettors Must Know

There are two primary ways that horse racing bets are paid out: Fixed odds and pari-mutuel.  

Fixed odds are used for major races like the legs of the Triple Crown, the Breeder’s Cup and the Santa Anita Derby.

It works similarly to betting on futures in other sports. The various horses are listed with their respective odds of winning—some long shots may be grouped together as “the field” and one bet gets all of them. Bettors choose the horse they think will win, place or show and know ahead of time how much their bet will pay if they’re successful.  

Smaller tracks and less popular races—which include the vast majority of all racing action available for betting—use payouts on a pari-mutuel basis.

All the money bet on each market goes into a large pool. A cut goes to the racing industry, and the rest is split among the winning tickets, weighted by the amount of each wager. You may be able to estimate how much you’ll win, but you won’t know for sure until everything is divided.

Horse Racing Betting Odds

For fixed-odds races, the odds will be presented in one of two different ways. There is the American format and the fractional format. We explain each one and explain how to read them below.

Fixed Odds for Horse Racing Betting in Ohio

The American format will begin with a plus or minus sign after the horse you’re looking at. If the number has a plus sign, it tells you how much you would win (in profit) with a $100 bet. 

So a +500 means that a $100 bet would win you $500, plus you’d get back the original $100 you put down. The higher the number after the plus sign is, the bigger your payout and the less likely it is that the horse (or team) will win.

If you don’t bet $100, the payout is scaled based on that ratio. So if you bet $10 on a +500, you’d earn $50 in profit.

When the odds start with a minus sign, it tells you how much you’d have to bet to win $100. So a -110 means that you’d have to risk $110 on a bet in order to earn $100 in profit on a win. Minus signs are reserved for heavy favorites. 

Fractional odds are the more common way of listing horse racing odds for big races. You multiply your bet amount by the fraction to calculate your potential profit.

For example, a horse with 7/2 odds would earn $350 profit on a $100 bet. (100 x 7/2 = 350)

Pari-Mutuel Betting in Ohio

Pari-mutuel betting is common in horse race betting, but it will be an adjustment if you’ve only bet on other sports, where fixed odds are generally the common practice.

Your bet goes into a pool, and after the industry takes a piece off the top, the winnings are divided up evenly (based on the wager amount) among the winners. Tracks and racebooks are generally good about estimating the potential payout prior to the start of the race, but the final amount you win may vary a bit from the expectation.

Pool Betting on Ohio Horse Races

You may hear the term “pool betting” for selected races. This is the same as pari-mutuel betting, where the wagers are put into one pool and then distributed. 

Horse Racing Bet Types Explained

Below we explain the different types of bets that are commonly placed on horse races:

  • Win: The most common bet. You pick the horse you think will win the race.
  • Place: Your bet will pay off if the horse finished first or second. The payout will be smaller than a Win bet.
  • Show: Your bet pays off for a first, second or third-place finish. The payout is smaller than a place.  
  • Exacta: For exacta wagers, you pick two horses to finish, exactly, in first and second. If you want the top two horses, regardless of which one finishes first, you’d need an Exacta Box.
  • Trifecta: You pick the top three horses in order. You can also do a Trifecta Box.  
  • Superfecta: You need to pick the top four horses in order.  
  • Daily Double: Essentially, a two-race parlay. You pick the winners of back-to-back races and need to win both to pay off.
  • Pick 3/4/5/6: Similar to a Daily Double but with three, four, five, or six consecutive races.

Ohio Horse Racing Betting Terms

Betting on horses has its own language. Here’s a quick glossary of terms

  • Across the Board: Putting three bets on the same horse– to win, to place, and to show.
  • At the Post: The horses are lining up to start the race. It means betting windows are about to close.
  • Blinkers: Headgear to restrict a horse’s field of vision. This can be helpful for an easily distracted horse.
  • Claiming Race: A race in which every horse running is up for sale.
  • Dead Heat: Two or more horses finish in a tie.
  • DQ: A horse has been disqualified
  • Exotic Bet: A bet on multiple horses that combines multiple outcomes, such as an exacta or trifecta.
  • Favorite: The horse with the best chance of winning—according to bookmakers—and the lowest potential payout.
  • Fixed Odds: Published odds stating exactly how much a bet will pay out if successful.
  • Furlong: This distance is one-eighth of a mile.
  • Length: The full length of a horse. Usually used to describe a horse’s margin of victory. Other measurements include a head, a neck, or a nose.
  • Morning Line: The track handicapper’s prediction on the eventual odds each horse will essentially have in the pari-mutuel payout.
  • Pari-Mutuel Wagering: The primary method used to determine horse racing payouts. All money wagered goes into a pool, which is split between winners.
  • Purse: The total prize money issued to the owners of the horses in a race, with the winning owner taking the largest slice.
  • Tote Board: A digital board that highlights the payouts for each market on the most recent race at a track.
  • Triple Crown: The three leading races for three-year-olds in America: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. 

Ohio Horse Racing Betting Calculator

A fixed-odds bet is just like a bet in any sportsbook market, and you’ll get a slip telling you exactly what the payout will be if you win. With pari-mutuel betting, however, the amount isn’t known until after the race.

However, you can try to figure out your potential winnings by looking at the percentage of money wagered on your horse and converting that into a probability.

Ohio Horse Racing Odds Chart:

The following chart shows the odds (American and fractional) and payout for a $2 bet at different levels.  

Horse Racing Odds $2 Wager Payout Implied Probability of Winning
1/5 (-500) $2.40 83.33%
1/4 (-400) $2.50 80%
1/3 (-300) $2.60 75%
1/2 (-200) $3.00 66.67%
4/6 (-150) $3.33 60%
1/1 (-100) $4.00 50%
2/1 (+200) $6.00 33.33%
3/1 (+300) $8.00 25%
5/1 (+500) $12 16.67%
10/1 (+1000) $22 9.00%
50/1 (+5000) $102 1.96%

As you can see, (+5000) odds have the lowest chance of winning but the highest payout, and (-500) odds have the best chance to win but the lowest payout.

Ohio Horse Race Tracks

Before the advent of online horse racing betting, the only option for horse players was track betting. Since their early days, almost all the race tracks in Ohio have taken some form of sports wagers.

Let’s take a look at the different race tracks across the Buckeye State.

  • JACK Thistledown Racino: In Randall, home to the Ohio Derby
  • Belterra Park: Located in Cincinnati, Belterra Park is a turf course for Thoroughbred racing.
  • MGM Northfield Park: In Northfield, Ohio, MGM Northfield park is home to harness racing more than 200 nights a year.
  • Scioto Downs: In Columbus, where you’ll find the Charlie Hill Pace, Ervin Samples Pace, and Heart of Ohio Trot.
  • Miami Valley Gaming: In Lebanon, home to the Miami Valley Distaff Trot and the Ohio State Stakes.  
  • Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway: This track can be found in Dayton, Ohio. It hosts harness racing and is also home to a large casino.
  • Delaware County Fairgrounds: In Columbus, home to the Little Brown Jug.

The History of Horse Racing in Ohio

The history of horse racing in Ohio dates back to the 1800s and has been a part of the sporting community for close to 200 years.

  • 2022: Betting on sports legalized in Ohio, taking effect in 2023, ending racing’s nearly 90-year reign as the only legalized gambling in the state.
  • 2019: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signs a bill allowing racetracks to offer sports betting on professional and college sports. However, the bill has yet to be fully implemented as regulations and licensing requirements are still being developed.
  • 2014: Ohio’s racetracks are authorized to offer instant racing, a form of electronic gambling that allows bettors to wager on past horse races using slot-like machines.
  • 2011: Ohio allows racetracks to install video lottery terminals (VLTs), also known as slot machines, at their facilities.
  • 1959: The Ohio State Racing Commission is established to regulate and oversee horse racing in the state.
  • 1933: Ohio legalizes pari-mutuel betting on horse racing.
  • 1925: Thistledown, Beulah Park, Northampton Park and River Downs open.
  • 1924: The Ohio Derby is run again and has run all but three years since.

Ohio Horse Racing Betting Bonuses

Here’s a look at the different types of bonuses you might encounter.

Welcome Bonuses

Some betting sites have welcome bonus offers that can be used on the racebook. Others limit it to casino gaming or the sportsbook. If you are able to use the bonus, be sure to check the rollover requirements, which say how many times it must be wagered before you can withdraw it.

Free Bets

Also called a risk-free bet or bet insurance. If you lose the bet, your money will be refunded, usually in the form of free bet credit.  

Loyalty/VIP

This is a program to keep existing customers betting at a site. There is usually some type of way to track your activity at a site, like a points system, and you are rewarded based on how often you wager.

Rebates

This is another way to reward loyal customers. The site returns a portion of what you’ve lost as a cash rebate or site credit. Some sites offer a rebate even on winning bets.  

Bonus Terms and Conditions at Ohio Horse Racing Betting Sites

Bonuses may seem like free money, but there are usually some strings attached. There may be minimum deposit requirements or bet amounts in order to be eligible for them. There also will likely be an expiration date for the bonus money, as well as rollover requirements.  

Rollover Requirements

This refers to how many times you need to play your bonus money before you can withdraw it. For instance, Bovada has a 6x rollover requirement, which is actually relatively low. It means you have to wager six times as much money as you’ve received as a bonus before you can cash it out. For instance, if you get a $100 bonus, you need to play at least $600.   

Tips to Start Betting at Horse Racing Sites for Ohioans

Registering an account at a horse racing site and getting started is fast and easy.

  1. Go to Bookmaker.eu, our top-rated site, or any other site in our top 10
  2. Hit the “Join Now” button and put your information in the registration form.
  3. Choose a deposit method and enter your information. Be sure to put in a promo code if your welcome offer requires one.  
  4. Find “Racebook” at the top of the page and choose an upcoming race.
  5. In order to place a straight wager, just check the win, place or show box next to a horse.
  6. Use the separate tabs to create an exacta, trifecta, or superfecta.
  7. Type the amount you want to wager and click “Place Bet.”

Conclusion

Our team of experts crunched the numbers and recommends Bookmaker.eu above all other options for online horse betting in Ohio. However, any of the sites listed in our top 10 are highly respected and will give you an excellent gambling experience.  

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