Horse Racing in Illinois – Best tracks to watch the action

Illinois horse racing is steeped in history and has offered racing fans around the United States exciting events for a number of years.

The most-populous Midwestern state has been home to some of the best races since the 1880s. The US is a horse racing nation as people up and down the country enjoy spending time watching and betting on domestic and international races. Whether you enjoy harness racing or thoroughbred racing, there are plenty of Illinois racing options for you to choose from.

The Prairie State has a long history of legal gambling, and thanks to recent events, residents have more access to gambling platforms than ever. With the introduction of the 2019 Illinois Gambling Act, IL sports betting apps are now legal. The Illinois Racing Board regulated the horse racing industry in the state, and bettors will be able to access racing dates via their website.

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Additionally, retail sportsbooks are available in Illinois casinos, racetracks, and within close proximity to sports venues. Regarding horse betting, bettors can wager on horse racing in Illinois online, either at several off-track betting locations or at the state’s three racetracks. Furthermore, TVG, one of the biggest online horse racing sites in the country, is available to Illinois residents. There are also horse racing partnerships in Illinois available through IL racing websites.

Horse Racing Illinois

Illinois Horse Betting

For those asking, ‘where is there horse racing in Illinois’? Well, there are three thoroughbred and harness racetrack venues offering live racing in Illinois, which are:

One of the most famous races of the season is the Arlington Million, which is a Grade 1 flat horse race for thoroughbred horses in addition to the Illinois Derby. You will discover harness races at at all of the above, with the Arlington International Racecourse particularly popular.

Fairmount Park Racetrack

As well as the above horse racing tracks in Illinois, there are 24 off-track betting (OTB) locations in the state. All of these locations operate under the guise of one of the three in-state tracks. Two of the OTB facilities are located in Chicago.

Illinois Horse Betting Legal Requirements

The minimum age to bet on horse racing in the Prairie State is 18. The minimum bet is $2; however, there are some exotic wagers where the minimum is $1. The Hawthorne Race Course and Fairmount Park Racetrack are pressing ahead with plans to expand their offerings. Both venues may become ‘racinos,’ which means they will offer slots and table games for visitors.

However, these plans may be delayed as Arlington Park owners, Churchill Downs, revealed they would not be applying for a casino license because it believes the state’s tax requirement on revenue generated from casino games is too high. Following this news, doubts have arisen regarding the race track’s future, and some groups have expressed an interest in buying the property from Churchill Downs.

Horse Betting Sites in Illinois

The Equibase website is typically the one-stop-shop for bettors in the US to check horse racing results and the latest statistics and news on thoroughbred racing. There are other legal betting platforms available for IL bettors, including:

  • BetAmerica
  • DRFBets
  • NYRABets
  • TwinSpires
  • Xpressbet

Advance-deposit betting is legal in Illinois and is available from the above online betting sites. Users could bet on the Kentucky Derby, the Triple Crown or any other famous events in the horse racing industry across North America.

Types of Horse Race Bets

You don’t have to visit a horse racing track to place a wager on a race in Illinois. You can place a wager on any Illinois track using any of the sites listed on this page. With that said, let’s take a look at the most prominent types of bets you can place on any meeting taking place at Illinois horse tracks:

Win: This is the most straightforward type of horse racing bet. A win means you are betting on a horse to win a race. You can bet on several horses to win, and there is usually a $2 minimum bet. Sites such as FanDuel sportsbook will offer markets on Illinois races.

Place: You can win a place bet if your horse finishes first or second. The payout will be the same as long as the horse finishes in the top two.

Show: You will get some returns on a show wager if your horse finishes inside the top three. The same rules applies as in a place bet, the payout is the same as long as the horse finishes in the top three positions.

Exacta: There are bets known as vertical exotics, and the exacta is the most straightforward of them. To win, a bettor must bet on a horse that finishes first and second in a race in the exact correct order.

Trifecta: This is the same as an exacta, except you must choose the top three in the correct order instead of the top two. These are extremely difficult to win so bear that in mind before attempting these wagers.


How old do u have to be to bet in horse racing in Illinois?

You must be at least 18 years old to wager on horse races in Illinois legally. This applies whether you live in Washington Park visit a track for a meet or play online from your home in Chicago.

Is horse racing betting legal in Illinois?

Yes, as long as you are over 18, you can legally bet on horses in IL. The state has three race tracks where you can bet, including Hawthorne Racecourse, or alternatively, there are 24 off-track betting venues available that host slot machines and other entertainment. Last year, Illinois introduced the Gambling Act, which means residents and visitors have more sports betting options, which includes horse racing. Online sports betting apps and retail sportsbooks are live and available in Illinois.

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