Online Horse Betting Sites in Tennessee

In the late 1800s, Tennessee developed a rich horse racing industry similar to its neighbor state, Kentucky.

Even though Tennessee is one of the few places with its own breed, the Tennessee Walking Horse, horse racing no longer takes place here.

It all went away in 1906.

This was a puritanical time for many states, and gambling was being outlawed almost everywhere. Unfortunately, the Volunteer State not only gave up its lead in horse racing then, it killed racing altogether. There aren’t any tracks, and there aren’t any off-track betting (OTB) facilities in the state.

Fast-forward to today, and some legislative efforts are working to bring horse racing back. There are now opportunities to bet online, using federal advance deposit wagering (ADW) laws at dedicated horse racing betting sites.

Horse racing in Tennessee: horse betting online

You can bet on US horse races legally in Tennessee, using the same pari-mutuel pools at on- and off-track facilities in other states. This method involves using websites, which operate under federal ADW laws.

The only site active in TN at the moment is TwinSpires.

These sites all operate the same way; you bet on races and enter into the betting pools. Winning tickets for different types of results then divide up the pooled money.

This method works in several formats ranging from simple win bets to Pick 5 wagers, which will roll over to future meetings if no one wins.

Plus, many of the same betting options are available with the Tennessee online and mobile sportsbooks that launched on Nov. 1, 2020.

Types of bets

Here are the bet types available:

  • Win: You are selecting the horse to come first.
  • Place: This bet is for your selection to come in first or second.
  • Show: This wager if for picking the first, second and third place winners.
  • Exacta: This bet is when you pick the first and second horses in the right order. It is possible to bet double your stake and cover both A-B and B-A.
  • Trifecta: Here, you are betting on first, second and third in the right order. Again you can bet multiple stakes to cover the different finishing permutations for your three selections.
  • Superfecta: If you get first, second, third and fourth correct, you could be looking at a significant (even jackpot-sized) payout.
  • Pick 5 or 6: This bet is on the results of five or six races at a single meeting. The prize pools for Pick 5 bets can get substantial. If no one wins these pools, they roll over to the next racing day. On occasion, they get to jackpot-sized proportions.

How to get started

Betting on horse races is easy, but, whether you’re going to place a bet with a dedicated horse betting app or TN online and mobile sportsbook, there are three things you need to do:

  1. Sign up for an account
  2. Make a deposit
  3. Fill out a Bet Slip

Sign up for an account

You have to register for an account with a dedicated horse betting app or TN online and mobile sportsbook before you can bet.

Just find the ‘SIGN UP,’ ‘JOIN,’ or ‘REGISTER’ tab on the operator’s website or through its mobile app.

Fill out the personal and account information sections. They usually won’t ask for more than your:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Date of birth
  • SSN (Last four digits)
  • New account name
  • Password

You may find a place where you can enter a promo code or bonus code. Find that here. Entering it will make sure you get the best bonus.

Finally, complete the registration process by accepting any terms and conditions and submitting your personal and account information.

Making a deposit

After registering, you are going to have to deposit money into your account to bet with.

Just find the ‘DEPOSIT’ or ‘CASHIER,’ tab on the operator’s website or through its mobile app.

Then, choose the most convenient method of deposit available. Most dedicated horse betting apps and TN online and mobile sportsbooks allow you to use cash at certain retail locations, credit and debit cards, and a number of different online payment processors.

Enter an amount, follow the prompts, and the money should be almost immediately available for you to bet with.

Placing a bet

Once you’ve registered for an account and made a deposit, you must create a bet slip to place bets.

Just login to your account and browse through the horse race betting markets. Click on a horse you like and a bet slip will be automatically created.

Here, you can play around with your betting options, adding more single bets or turning your straight wager into an exotic like an exacta or superfecta.

Finally, enter the amount you want to bet and your potential payout will be displayed. Simply click through to place the bet.

Horse betting bonuses

Tennessee online and mobile sports betting just launched and the sportsbooks want your business.

That means you can take advantage of the various free bet, risk-free bet, and match deposit bonuses they offer new players to bet on horse races without risking any of your own money. Some may even run event-specific promos surrounding horse racing’s biggest events.

You can also take advantage of similar promos and bonuses run by dedicated horse betting apps.

Many have been known to offer insurance on your first win bet, giving you a site credit refund if you lose that first bet.

Dedicated horse betting apps may also offer event-specific promos surrounding all kinds of races, including.

  • Money back: Cash back on win bets when the horse places or shows
  • Insurance: Cash back on Exacta and Superfecta bets that are one horse off
  • Win bonus: Bonus cash payouts on winning bets
  • Free play contests: Free-to-play horse betting contests with real-money prizes

Races to bet on in TN

There’s no horse racing in TN, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bet on the biggest events in horse racing around the country.

This includes The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness Stakes, and The Belmont Stakes, known together as Thoroughbred Racing’s Triple Crown:

The Kentucky Derby

  • Usual date: The first Saturday in May (First leg of the Triple Crown)
  • Track: The 1 1/4 miles track at Churchill Downs in Kentucky
  • Purse: $3 million
  • 2020 winner: Authentic

The Preakness Stakes

  • Usual date: The third Saturday in May (Second leg of the Triple Crown held two weeks after the Kentucky Derby)
  • Track: The 1 3/16 miles track at the Pimlico Race Course in Maryland
  • Purse: $1.5 million
  • 2020 winner: Swiss Skydiver

The Belmont Stakes

  • Usual date: The first week of June (Third and final leg of the Triple Crown)
  • Track: The 1.5 mile track at Belmont Park in New York
  • Purse: $1 million
  • 2020 winner: Tiz the Law

It might also include The Breeders’ Cup, consisting of more than $30 million in stakes races held at a different track every year over a two-day period in the Fall.

The biggest Breeders’ Cup Race is the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. Participants almost always include the winners of the Preakness Stakes, Kentucky Derby, and Belmont Stakes. Triple Crown winners can complete the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred Racing by winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Breeders’ Cup Classic

  • Usual date: The first Saturday in November
  • Track: 2020 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky
  • Purse: $6 million
  • 2020 winner: TBD

Tennessee horse racing history

If you go back far enough, you’ll find a rich history of horse racing in Tennessee. In the 1840s, some of the first thoroughbreds (direct descendants of English stock) were racing on dirt roads.

This period included the famous race when Polly Medley beat then-champion Indian Queen. These horses would go on to become critical elements of the bloodlines of many horses for more than a century.

In the heyday of Tennessee horse racing, there were 10+ major racetracks around the state. These included tracks at:

  • Beans Station
  • Bolivar
  • Clarksville
  • Jackson
  • McMinnville
  • Memphis
  • Murfreesboro
  • Nashville
  • Paris
  • Shelbyville
  • Winchester

In 1853, the richest race held anywhere was the Peyton Stakes with a purse of $35,000 ($335,000+ in today’s dollars). Held at Burn’s Island track near Nashville, Peytona was the winner.

There have been attempts to revive horse racing in Tennessee. A racing commission was set up in 1987, which legalized pari-mutuel betting. After local referendums defeated proposals for tracks, this commission was put on ice and disbanded in 1998.

While Kentucky thrived and became the top horse racing destination in the US, Tennessee continued only with rodeos, transport horses, and some breeding for races in other states.

Recent legislation efforts

Efforts were made to bring the horse racing commission back in 2015-16.

Then, legislation was introduced in 2019 that consisted of two bills, looking to bring back the racing commission as a first step at reviving Tennessee horse racing.

The bills were brought forward by Rep. Joe Towns (D) and Sen. Ramesh Akbari (D).

Wrapping up: Horse racing bets in Tennessee

In those puritanical days of the early 1900s, many states banned gambling in all formats. Unfortunately, the highly regarded Tennessee horse racing industry was a direct victim of those times.

The Volunteer State was considered to have the best racing in the country at the time. However, it handed that crown to Kentucky.

While legislation to revive the industry has stalled – at least some officials are trying to revive this. Recent sports betting legislation did get through, showing that changes are possible.

There are horse racing betting sites and sportsbooks which allow access to the pari-mutuel pools or offer horse betting outside the pools. That means you are able to bet on races, watch them live, and even access advanced statistical data via past performance reports.

Horse Betting FAQ

Is horse betting legal in TN?

You can bet on horse races legally in Tennessee. But, since there are no racetracks or off-track betting facilities, you have to bet online. You can legally bet on horse races online with dedicated horse racing betting sites and licensed Tennessee online and mobile sportsbooks.

How much is bet on horse racing in the US?

In 2018, there was approximately $11.2 billion bet on horse races in the US. With the number of legal online and mobile sportsbooks launching across the country offering legal horse race betting, that number should continue to rise.

What is Virtual/Historical Horse Racing?

Virtual Horse Racing, Historical Horse Racing, and Instant Racing, is electronic gambling allowing you to bet on replays of horse races or computer-generated virtual race simulations. The terminals you use to bet are like horse racing and slot hybrids and Virtual Racing can also be found online.

Can I bet on the Kentucky Derby online in TN?

You can legally bet on horse races online in Tennessee, including the Kentucky Derby and the other races that are part of Thoroughbred Racing’s Triple Crown. Betting with dedicated horse racing betting apps and sites even allows you to enter the same pari-mutuel betting pools offered across the country at OTBs and racetracks. That means you have access to the same odds and payouts for Triple Crown races the rest of the country does, right here in TN.

How do I read a horse racing form? (briefly, if possible)

Horse Racing Forms give you information about the horses in race, including each horse’s record and historical performance data.

The forms feature various numbers, letters, and symbols beside every horse’s name that offer this information.

First you’ll find the race number and the horse’s starting position. You may also see the number of days since the horse last ran and the horse’s age.

Then, there’s six numbers representing the horses’ most recent race results, listed in chronological order from left to right. If there’s a letter or dash instead of a number, that usually indicates the horse did not finish the race. Different letters indicate the different reasons the horse did not finish the race.

You should also see contextual form data with letters that provide some information relevant to the race the horse is about to run. Things like a ‘C’ if the horse has won at this track previously.