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Horse betting in North Carolina

In today’s piece, you will learn all you need to know about horse betting in North Carolina including its legal status, how you can place a horse betting wager, and much more.

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Second Chance Bet Up To $1500
Gambling problem? Call 877-718-5543, or visit www.morethanagame.nc.gov. 21+. NC only.
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Gambling problem? Call 877-718-5543, or visit www.morethanagame.nc.gov. 21+. NC only.
Bet $5, Get $150 in Bonus Bets
Gambling problem? Call 877-718-5543, or visit www.morethanagame.nc.gov. 21+. NC only.
Bet $5 Get $150 in Bonus Bets
Gambling problem? Call 877-718-5543, or visit www.morethanagame.nc.gov. 21+. NC only.

The Tar Heel State of North Carolina falls in line with most states below the Mason-Dixon line in its conservative approach to most things gambling. As we’ve seen throughout the country in recent years, though, things are changing for the better if you're a gambler in the state. 

Despite there being no active horse racing tracks within state lines, horse betting in North Carolina was made legal at the state’s three tribal casinos in 2019. Then, in 2023, North Carolina lawmakers passed legislation to allow for online horse betting. While the practice became legal on March 11, 2024, no operators have launched yet.

Let’s dive deeper into what to expect when it comes to all things horse betting in North Carolina. 

Best horse betting sites in North Carolina

The new legislation passed for online horse betting in North Carolina made March 11, 2024, the state's official launch day. As operators wait for their licenses to be approved, let’s take a look at a few of the best horse betting sites in North Carolina to expect.

Yes, horse betting is legal in North Carolina, and has been since 2019. First at the state’s three tribal casinos (Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel, Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort, and Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort), each of which offers an off-track simulcast betting facility.

The next significant milestone in making horse betting legal in North Carolina came in June 2023, as House Bill 347 passed both the House and Senate to allow for online horse betting in North Carolina. Known as advance deposit wagering (ADW), the passage was included in a bill primarily drafted for online sports betting in NC. Ever since the bill passed in the Summer of 2023, operators began preparing for launch, with March 11, 2024, the official date on the calendar that operators can make their sites live.

How can you place a wager at a North Carolina race track?

Though there are currently no operating horse race tracks in North Carolina, you can still place in-person horse bets at any of the state’s three Tribal Casinos, spread throughout the state. The three currently operating locations are Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel (Murphy), Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort (Cherokee), and Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort (Kings Mountain). Here is how you can place a wager at any of them.

  1. Find the Off-Track Betting (OTB) Area: When you get to any of the three Tribal Casinos in North Carolina, first make your way to the off-track betting area. There will be both in-person associates and self-serving kiosks available to take your wager, the latter of which we’ll cover today.
  2. Research Your Wager: Whether you are using the tip sheets provided by the off-track betting location (for a small fee) or doing your own research online, look into the day’s races available for betting. This will include races from throughout the country, which you can then watch via simulcast closed-circuit televisions in the OTB.
  3. Prepare For Your Wager: With your research done, note the race track, race number, horse number (posting number), and type of wager you are planning to place. With this information in hand, approach the kiosk to begin to make your wager.
  4. Place Your Wager: When you approach the kiosk, you’ll first have to insert cash (only) into the machine, with minimum deposits typically being $5. Once your money is inserted, follow the intuitive instructions on the touch screen, entering the information noted in step #3 along the way. Once done, review your bet before confirming it, at which time the machine will print out your bet slip.
  5. Collect Your Winnings: If you have a winning ticket after watching your race on one of the televisions in the OTB, it’s time to collect your winnings. Head back to the machine and insert your ticket, at which point you’ll be asked to place another bet or receive a voucher. If you are ready to cash out, take your voucher to the OTB’s cashier, and collect your cash.

Key things to know when betting on horses in North Carolina

If this is your first time getting into horse betting in North Carolina, there are some important things to know when getting involved. Based on more than two decades of betting horses, below are some key things to know when betting on horses in North Carolina.

  • Welcome Offers: Starting in March 2024, you’ll be able to use online horse betting sites (or apps) in North Carolina to place your bets. Because there will be competition, each will offer promotions to sign up for new accounts. Take advantage of the promotional offers, all of which will include some form of bonus bets to get you started.
  • Research Your Bets: All of the horse betting sites in North Carolina will offer sections that provide free and paid information on the day’s races, put together by professional horse bettors. Using either these or your online research, prepare for your bets by diving into data such as horse trainers' records at certain tracks, jockeys’ history with certain horses, or horse performances in certain weather conditions.
  • Must be in North Carolina: If you are using one of the soon-to-launch North Carolina horse betting sites or apps, you must be inside NC state lines to use them. While there are subtle differences between desktop sites and apps, the key similarity is that both require you to be physically located in the state to use them.
  • Different Bet Types: We’ll get more into the different bet types at your disposal when betting on horses in the next section, but you have options. While betting on which horse will win is the most common type of bet, there are many ways to bet on horses that go beyond simply who will win. Continue reading to understand some of the different types of bets you can place.

Different types of bets you can place on horses in NC

Many people getting involved in horse betting for the first time might think betting on a horse to win is the only way to wager on the ponies. That couldn’t be further from the truth, however, as we dive into the different types of bets you can place on horses in NC.

Straight Bets

  • Win: You guessed it; betting on a horse to win means you’ll only get paid if that horse wins the race. The odds at which you’ll get paid out, however, depend on the horse’s odds at the time of posting (when the race starts).
  • Place: Betting a horse to a place requires your horse to finish either in first or second place to get paid.
  • Show: A show bet means you are betting on a horse to finish in either first, second, or third.

Exotic Bets

  • Exacta: An exacta is the most basic form of exotic bet, which requires you to pick the horses that come in first and second, in that exact order. As you would expect, exotic bets pay more than straight bets as they require a much higher level of accuracy to get correct.
  • Trifecta: Trifecta bets build on the Exacta, as they require you to correctly pick the horses that finish in first, second, and third, in that exact order.
  • Superfecta: Superfectas take exotic bets a step further, requiring you to pick the exact order of the horses that come in first, second, third, and fourth place.
  • Boxing: Boxing is an add-on type of wager, in that you can “box” an Exacta, Trifecta, or Superfecta. When boxing, you still have to get the horses that come in first through second, third, or fourth, but it eliminates the need to get the order correct. Though boxing means the payout is lower, it can often mean the difference between a winning and losing bet.

Horse tracks in North Carolina


Though you can not wager at them, nor on the races that take place there, there are two horse tracks in North Carolina that host exhibition-style events each year. Below are where each of them is located.

Race Track

Address

Pinehurst Race Track

200 Buelah Hill Road South, Pinehurst, NC, 28734

Green Creek Race Course

6881 NC Hwy 9, Columbus, NC, 28722


FAQ

Can you bet on horses on North Carolina sportsbooks?

No, you can not bet on horses on North Carolina sportsbook sites, because they are not yet to launch. In March 2024, independently operating online horse betting sites are expected to launch in North Carolina. Check back here to BettingNC.com for all of the latest information.

When will you be able to bet on horses online in North Carolina?

You will be able to bet on horses online in North Carolina likely no later than March 11, 2024, the first day that sites can launch their operations online.

Can I bet on out-of-state horse races from North Carolina?

Yes, you currently can bet on out-of-state horse races from North Carolina, at any of the three Tribal Casinos in the state. In March 2024, online horse betting in North Carolina is scheduled to launch, which will allow you to bet on out-of-state horse races from North Carolina via desktop websites and mobile apps.

Are there any off-track betting (OTB) facilities in North Carolina?

No, there are no traditional off-track betting (OTB) facilities in North Carolina, as state legislation strictly prohibits them. There are off-track betting areas at each of the three Tribal Casinos in the state which include Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel, Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort, and Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort.

What is the minimum age to bet on horse racing in North Carolina?

The minimum age to bet on horse racing in North Carolina is 18 years old.

Are there any special events or horse races in North Carolina that I should know about?

Yes, the Tyron Block House Steeplechase at Green Creek Race Course is held every April and is the longest-running steeplechase in North Carolina hosting events since 1947. Located about 50 miles from Asheville, NC, the event brings visitors from all over the country and features tailgating, socializing, and multiple thoroughbred horse races.