Legal to bet on the Preakness? Guide to betting on horse racing responsibly

May 14, 2024

The Kentucky Derby has come and gone, but fortunately for horse racing fans, that was just the first leg of the Triple Crown. The second leg – the prestigious Preakness Stakes – is a thoroughbred race that is run two weeks after the Derby. It takes place at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, where Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan will be back looking to capture the second jewel of the Triple Crown as well. 

As you may be aware, betting on horse racing is treated completely differently than sports betting, so let’s run through the legality of wagering on the Preakness.

How and where can I bet on the Preakness?

Is sports betting legal in Maryland?

Yes, sports betting is legal in Maryland. In-person betting has been legalized since legislation was passed December 2021 in Maryland, and Governor Larry Hogan was adamant about launching soon after. It took longer than anticipated, but mobile sports betting went live on November 23, 2022 (CBS News). That means anybody traveling to Maryland for the Preakness is legally allowed to bet on the race in-person or online at one of the legalized sportsbooks. 

Location Rules

Horse racing has been more widely adopted in America than regular sports betting, even though both fall under the umbrella of gambling. There have been 38 states to legalize sports betting, and of those, only 30 have legalized mobile sports betting. However, betting on horse racing, including the Preakness, is legal in 40 states across the country. It’s important to note that not all states that have legalized sports gambling have legalized horse racing, and vice versa.

Those states include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas (in-person only), Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Age Rules

The minimum age to gamble has been a topic of discussion for quite some time in America. When sports betting was starting to become legalized in more states over the past six years or so, most states mandated that a person had to be 21 years old. However, a handful of states have made the minimum age 18 years old.

That’s also the age that most states have required a person to be to gamble on horse racing. At most tracks and online at apps like FanDuel Racing, the person only needs to be 18+ years old. Having said that, some states like Arizona, Iowa, Nevada, and Texas still require a person to be 21+ years old to gamble on horse racing (Forbes).

Do FanDuel and DraftKings offer betting on the Preakness?

Yes, you will be able to bet on the Preakness at FanDuel and DraftKings as long as you are in a state that has legalized mobile sports betting. Both sportsbooks will offer several markets on the race like outright winner, top 3 finish, and plenty of exotic bets like exactas and trifectas. 

Is betting on horse racing the same as sports betting?

Betting on horse racing and sports betting are both forms of gambling, but they are not completely alike. In fact, the United States government created a difference between the two in 2006. Long before the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was overturned in 2018, illegal gambling was starting to become an issue. 

That’s when Congress passed the anti-gambling act, which made it illegal for people to bet on sports (Past The Wire). However, horse racing was not included as one of the sports in the act. That meant people across the country could still bet on horse racing, and that created an important difference between wagering on horse racing and sports betting.

History of betting on the Preakness

The Preakness Stakes has been an important part of horse racing for over 150 years. The first race was run in 1873 and got its name from the Maryland Governor Oden Bowie (Off Track Betting). Since then, the Preakness has become one of the most popular horse racing events in the calendar year. It is the second most attended horse race each year, behind only the Kentucky Derby. 

In 2016, the Preakness broke several records that had stood for many years. That year’s race broke the record in attendance and handle as there were 135,256 fans and $94,127,434 wagered (Twin Spires). Even though it’s not the most popular horse racing event each year, it is still incredibly important in the American Triple Crown race and one of the most bet-on events in horse racing.

Pari-mutuel versus fixed-odds betting in horse racing

If you’re betting on the Preakness or a different horse racing event, you should be aware of the two different types of odds you might experience: pari-mutuel versus fixed-odds wagering. Fixed-odds is the type of betting you will set at a normal sportsbook, like FanDuel or DraftKings. The sportsbook might set Mystik Dan’s odds at 5/1 to win the Preakness, and you are locked in at that price, no matter if the odds fluctuate before the race. 

The second type is pari-mutuel, which is heavily involved in the history of betting on horse racing. The clear difference between fixed-odds and pari-mutuel wagering is that your odds could change in pari-mutuel betting. From the time you place your bet to the time the race is about to start, your odds can be constantly moving. This is because the odds of the horse you bet on cannot be calculated until all the wagers have been placed. Once a horse wins, the money bet on that horse is divided up among the winners based on the odds calculated when the race begins. A percentage of the handle is taken by the racetrack as a “hold” as well.

5 Responsible Gaming tips for betting on horse racing

1: Only gamble what you can afford to lose

One of the most important responsible gaming tips is to only wager what you can afford to lose completely. You should view betting on horse racing as entertainment, so only gamble what you would be willing to pay for attending a sporting event or concert.

2: Learn and understand the odds

Horse racing is different from sports betting, so it’s important to learn the odds and all of the markets that are offered in horse racing. 

3: Find out your unit size and stick to it

Once you have your betting bankroll, the next step is to determine your unit size. A unit is generally 1-4% of your betting bankroll and is the standard amount you will wager on a single bet. It’s important to stick to that amount and never “chase” losses by increasing it in hopes of winning back what was lost. 

4: Set limits on yourself

Regardless of whether it’s a Triple Crown race or another marquee event, you should set a limit for how much you will risk. This will help you avoid losing more money than you originally anticipated.

5: Take breaks!

Remember, horse racing happens nearly every day around the globe. Taking a break and hitting the reset button could prevent you from losing even more. 

The risks of betting on horse racing

The plethora of betting opportunities in the sport is the primary reason for horse racing being dangerous. In America, there are major horse racing events like the Triple Crown races, but there are also hundreds of other races happening throughout the week. In just this country, there are over 300 race tracks. Many locations offer horse racing daily and weekly. Plus, horse racing has become incredibly popular around the world. That means even when horse racing is done for the day in America, it could just be getting started in a different country.

One crucial Responsible Gaming tip is to set a limit on how often and how much you gamble. Horse racing makes this even more critical to follow, since races are almost always happening throughout the day around the world. If you fail to set a limit on how much or how often you gamble on horse racing, you could be putting yourself at risk for developing a gambling problem. 

Problem Gambling help in the United States

Gambling addiction is a fight that individuals don’t need to go through alone. Birches Health offers online help with a team of trained professionals who have decades of combined experience. Over 90% of patients have felt an increase in quality of life after treatment at Birches. Plus, many patients have a $0 out-of-pocket cost. Help is available, and it’s just a click or call away.

Sources:

Place your bets: A timeline on how mobile sports betting came to be in Maryland - CBS Baltimore

How Old Do You Have To Be To Gamble? – Forbes Betting

Horse Racing Betting: Is it Legal in America? - Past The Wire

Preakness Stakes History | OFF TRACK BETTING

Preakness Stakes History | TwinSpires

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