Horse Racing Betting in Michigan, Everything to Know About Online Horse Race Betting

Fact Checked by Joss Wood

Michigan is quickly becoming one of the most online gambling-friendly states in the U.S., and horse racing is a part of that.

While Michigan sports betting , casino gambling and poker is set to launch in early 2021 (if not earlier), online pari-mutuel wagering already exists in the state through a variety of national advance deposit wagering platforms.

Michigan has a long history with pari-mutuel racing, which was authorized in the state nearly 90 years ago. Nearly a dozen horse tracks have come and gone, with Northville Downs Race Track, which features harness racing, the only one currently offering live racing, along with a full schedule of daily simulcast races from tracks across the country. There is no live thoroughbred racing in Michigan.

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Can I Bet on Horses Online in Michigan?

Yes. Several of the largest U.S. operators of online pari-mutuel betting — also known as advance deposit wagering (ADW) — began accepting Michigan accounts and wagers in 2020. Online wagering is available on horse tracks from all over the world.

When Did Michigan Legalize Online Horse Betting?

State lawmakers authorized online horse betting with the passage of House Bill 4310, signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Dec. 20, 2019. The legislation allowed third-party online racing betting operators to apply for a license in Michigan and accept online and mobile wagers. Online horse race wagering in the state began in July 2020.

Where to Bet on Horses Online

TVG was the first national ADW platform to begin operating in Michigan. Several other online pari-mutuel operators quickly followed, including TwinSpires, Xpressbet, DRF Bets, BetAmerica and AmWager. All accept Michigan accounts, with additional ADW operators expected to join the market.

Horse Racing Betting Types

Horse players can select from a vast menu of wagering options, with single horse, multi-horse and multi-race bets available. Win, place and show wagers, also known as “straight” betting, are the simplest bets to make.

A win wager is a bet on a horse to win a specific race. Payouts are determined by a horse’s odds, which is based on the amount of money wagered on each horse in the race.

A place bet is a wager that a horse will finish no worse than second. A show bet that a horse will finish no worse than third.

Exotic Betting

It’s estimated that more than 70% of all horse racing wagers are exotic bets. These are bets on two or more horses in a particular race or a series of races. Exotic bets are popular because they offer potentially lucrative payouts for a small investment. Some examples of exotic wagers:

Quinella: A wager on two horses in a race to finish first and second in either order.

Exacta: A wager on two horses in a race to finish first and second in exact order.

Trifecta: A wager on three horses in a race to finish first, second and third in exact order.

Superfecta: A wager on four horses in a race to finish first, second, third and fourth in exact order.

Daily Double: A wager combining the winning horses of two consecutive races.

Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 5, Pick 6: A wager combining the winning horses of three, four, five and six consecutive races.

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How to Bet on Horses Online in Michigan

Going to the track can be fun and exciting, but the reality is most horse racing wagers are placed online, and that is especially true with Michigan horse racing betting. The process is simple and convenient, with wagering available on your mobile device or computer.

The first step is to select an ADW provider that is licensed in Michigan, such as TVG, TwinSpires, Xpressbet, etc. You can register for an account on the operator’s website or by downloading the app, which allows mobile wagering. Create an account, deposit funds and you are ready to wager.

After logging in, your provider will offer a selection of racetracks. Click on the track you wish to bet on and the field for the upcoming race will appear on your screen, with odds changing in real time. When ready to bet, the wager button provides a menu of choices. Then click on the wager type (win, exacta, daily double, etc.) and amount you wish to bet.

You don’t have to be at the track to cheer your horse home. Watch the races via live streaming on your computer or mobile device. Winnings are automatically posted to your account.

What Bonuses Will Michigan Have for Horse Racing?

Another advantage to betting on horse racing in Michigan online is the bonus offers and promotions offered to new and existing players. Remember to check the terms and conditions for all promotions. Among the offers for Michigan players:

Deposit match: Make your first deposit and the operator will match a portion or all of that amount.

Sign up bonus: Receive a small bonus just by signing up for an account.

Risk free bet: Place a single horse win bet, and if it loses, the wager is refunded.

Free handicapping info: Bet a specified amount on a particular track and your provider will reimburse any costs paid for past performance data.


Michigan Race Tracks

Pari-mutuel wagering in Michigan was legalized in 1933. Since that time, the state was home to several thoroughbred and harness tracks, most notably Detroit Race Course and Hazel Park. All but one have closed their doors.

Northville Downs, which was built in 1944, is the lone track in the state currently operating a live racing meet. The harness track, located about 30 miles west of Detroit, was temporarily shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, but reopened on Aug. 5. In addition to live racing, Northville Downs offers year-round simulcast races from other tracks.

Quick Strategies for Betting on Horses

Read past performances: Bettors with the most information make the most informed choices. Past performances detail how each horse has performed in the past several races. Past performance information is available for all tracks, with Daily Racing Form and Brisnet the most popular. DRF Bets provides free past performances (cost is reimbursed) to players who wager $25 or more on a specific day’s card.

Watch replays: If you want to see video of a horse’s previous race(s), replays are generally available. While not everyone has time to watch a large number of video replays, viewing specific races can provide valuable insight you won’t get anywhere else.

Discover your betting style: If you’re most comfortable making single horse wagers, then straight win, place and show betting may be right for you. If you’re more interested in making a bigger score, exotic wagers with the potential for more lucrative payouts may be your style. Your risk tolerance and money management strategies will help you decide.

Major Horse Racing Events to Bet on

The Triple Crown races — Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes — are three of the biggest days on the horse racing calendar. To win the Triple Crown, a 3-year old must win all three races. The dates of all three Triple Crown races were rescheduled in 2020 due to the coronavirus. The Breeders’ Cup is also a giant weekend of racing contested every fall.

Kentucky Derby

Annual date: First Saturday in May.

2020 date: Sept. 5.

Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky.

About: First leg of Triple Crown is the race every horse owner, trainer and bettor wants to win. Field limited to 20, based on points accumulated in prep races. Distance is 1-1/4 miles.


Annual date: Two weeks after Kentucky Derby.

2020 date: Oct. 3.

Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore.

About: Normally second jewel of Triple Crown, pushed back to final leg in 2020. Distance is 1-3/16 miles, shortest of the three races.

Belmont Stakes

Annual date: Three weeks after Preakness.

2020 date: June 20 (won by Tiz the Law).

Where: Belmont Park, Elmont, New York.

About: Distance of 1-1/2 miles is longest of the three races. The 2020 race was run as first leg and shortened to 1-1/8 mile distance, with no fans allowed. Odds-on favorite Tiz the Law won by four lengths.

Breeders’ Cup

Annual date: Late October or early November.

2020 date: Nov. 6-7

Where: Awarded to different tracks. The 2020 event is at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky.

About: The Breeders’ Cup is two days of championship racing featuring horses from around the world, held annually at a different North American location. The Breeders’ Cup Classic, run at 1-1/4 miles, is the richest of the 14 championship races. The purse for the 2020 Classic is $7 million.


Bryce covers sports betting and gaming for, along with other Midwest states. He joined after spending the last nine years covering high school and college sports throughout Michigan. His favorite sports to gamble on are football, basketball, baseball and Formula 1.

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