With all the attention Indiana has received of late for its commendable work in legalizing sports betting, let us not forget the state also has a vibrant horse racing industry complete with on-track, off-track and online betting.
Today, Indiana racetracks handle more than $60 million of in-state wagers and export more than $220 million via simulcasting every year to make this a very competitive state on the national scene. Indiana Grand, for example, ranks #5 in the nation for daily purse averages. In short, Indiana is a hotbed of racing betting.
Legal Horse Racing Betting Sites in Indiana
Online Horse Racing Betting in Indiana
Online racing betting, referred to as “advance deposit wagering” in legal documents, is regulated completely independently of sports betting. In fact, online racing betting was legalized well before sports wagering in a bid to support the local horse racing industry.
Indiana’s first attempt to legalize advance deposit wagering was vetoed by then-governor Mike Pence in 2015, but legislation approved later paved the way for licensed betting sites to set up shop in Indiana. BetAmerica and TVG are the two largest racing betting sites now active in Indiana.
To clear up any confusion, be aware that certain Google searches can bring up an outdated FAQ from the Gaming Control Division that claims online racing betting is illegal. This is no longer the case. More recent legislation approved by the General Assembly makes it clear advance deposit wagering is legal.
Indiana Code § 4-31-7.5-9 lays it out in plain terms:
“Advance deposit wagering is permitted in Indiana, subject to this chapter and to rules adopted by the commission.”
That same piece of legislation also lays out the guidelines by which racing betting sites are authorized to offer wagering to residents. Some of the key provisions governing Indiana racing betting sites include:
- Must have a written contract with each local racetrack prior to accepting wagers on races held at that track
- $5,000 application fee for licensing
- Must verify the age of every customer and only accept wagers from customers who are 21 or older
- Maintain a segregated fund to ensure the full payment of all account balances
- Adhere to various recordkeeping requirements established by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission
Licensed Indiana Racetracks
The Indiana Horse Racing Commission has issued licenses to two permanent tracks and for races held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds each year.
The two Indiana racetracks are operated by Caesars Entertainment, which naturally means visitors will find much more than a simple racetrack at each location. Harrah’s Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand are both full-fledged casinos complete with slots, poker, table games, sports betting and year-round racing betting via simulcast.
4500 Dan Patch Circle
Anderson, IN 46013
Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino opened its doors in 1994 and hosts live harness racing from March through November encompassing 160 race days. The track itself runs 7/8 of a mile and occasionally plays host to the Breeders Crown, the richest race in harness racing.
In addition to horse racing, Harrah’s Hoosier Park hosts a full-fledged casino, sportsbook, two concert venues and multiple dining options.
4300 N Michigan Road
Shelbyville, IN 46176
Caesars Entertainment acquired the parent company of Indiana Grand in 2018 to gain near total control over Indiana’s land-based gambling industry. The track itself is known as the Indiana Grand Race Course and measures one mile.
The Indiana Grand live racing calendar runs from April through November each year for thoroughbred and quarter horse racing with the signature even being the Grade III $500,000 Indiana Derby every July. I all, Indiana Grand hosts 110 racing days each year.
Indiana Grand is also home to a large casino with more than 2,000 slots, the state’s largest video poker room, table games, a sportsbook, concert area and numerous restaurants.
County fairs and the Indiana State Fair host a smaller series of races every throughout the year in partnership with the Indiana Standardbred Advisory Board and the Indiana Standardbred Breed Development program.
The Indiana-Sired Fair Circuit is designed to showcase local racing talent as all entrants must be foaled in Indiana and sired by a local stallion.
Off-Track Betting in Indiana
Off-track betting facilities (OTBs) are legal in Indiana and three can be found across the state. Under state law, permanent racetrack permitholders may operate satellite facilities that meet the following requirements:
- Offer full dining service
- Provide multiple TVs for patrons to view simulcast races
- Able to comfortable seat 200+ patrons
650 Eastern Blvd
Clarksville, IN 47129
Featuring both big screen TVs and personal monitor stations, this location offers a full-service bar and concession stand as well. Winners Circle OTB also launched a retail sportsbook in September 2019 to significantly expand the location’s betting menu.
20 N Pennsylvania Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Located in downtown Indianapolis, this OTB option also has a sports bar vibe with a pub and grille featuring daily specials. Winner’s Circle Indianapolis also houses a sportsbook with HD LED TVs, video wall and lounge chairs.
1304 Minnich Road
New Haven, Indiana 46774
The New Haven OTB offers horse racing and sports betting seven days a week with craft beer on tap and a full food menu courtesy of VooDoo BBQ & Grill. The New Haven sportsbook launched in September 2019 with an HD video wall and additional luxury seating.
Indiana Horse Racing Betting Laws
Indiana’s horse racing laws are relatively lenient with trackside betting, OTBs and online racing betting all legal and regulated. Parimutuel horse racing law is covered by Chapter 4, Article 31 of the state code and that piece of legislation establishes the legal framework in which the industry operates.
The Indiana Horse Racing Commission (HRC) oversees the industry and its duties include licensing, ensuring the industry is run according to the law and adopting additional regulations as needed.
Despite Indiana’s rich history of horse racing, legal wagering did not come until the late 1980s. Prior to 1988, all forms of gambling and lotteries were prohibited under the state constitution. That changed in 1988 when residents voted in favor of a constitutional amendment authorizing the lottery.
In doing so, Hoosiers granted the legislature authority to authorize additional forms of gambling. This resulted in the passage of a law authorizing a state lottery and parimutuel wagering in 1989. The passage of that law also established the HRC.
Simulcasting and live racing betting officially got underway in 1994 with the opening of Hoosier Park (now Harrah’s Hoosier Park).
Major Horse Racing Events in Indiana
The Indiana horse racing industry runs a good seven months out of the year every year with a handful of major events that stand above all the rest in terms of prestige and prize money.
- Indiana Derby: The Grade III Indiana Derby has been running since 1995, first at Hoosier Park and now at Indiana Grand with a purse valued at $500,000. The 1 1/16 mile race is open to 3-year-olds and serves as a path to the Breeders’ Cup.
- Indiana Oaks: The Indiana Oaks is the fillies’ answer to the Indiana Derby as a Grade III event that offers a path to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. The Indiana Oaks is also run at Indiana Grand across 1 1/16 miles with a $200,000 purse on offer.
- Breeders Crown: The $6 million Breeders Crown is the pinnacle of harness racing and although it is a traveling event, the harness track at Harrah’s Hoosier Park does play host occasionally, including in 2017 and 2020. The last time the Breeders Crown came to Hoosier Park, it set a single-night record of $2.1 million in total wagers handled.
- Dan Patch Stakes: Every August, the Dan Patch Stakes serves as the premier race at Harrah’s Hoosier Park and the biggest event in Indiana harness racing with $330,000 in purse money. The race itself capstones Harrah’s annual Dan Patch festival, which also features a full race card, family activities and a free concert that is open to the public.
- Caesars Stakes: Formerly known as the Centaur Stakes, the $200,000 Caesars Stakes reigns as Indiana’s richest turf race.