On Saturday, 22 horses with amusing names and their accompanying jockeys will compete in the annual Kentucky Derby in Louisville. As derby-goers adorned in elaborate hats, mint juleps in hand, bet on the horse they predict will outrun all the others, people watching from home want in on the action too. Don't fret — you can legally bet on the Kentucky Derby online and pretend you're actually at the Churchill Downs Racetrack.
Although it's mostly illegal to gamble online in the U.S. across state lines, horse races don't fit in with other forms of gambling and have largely evaded regulation. While it's hard to say it's 100 percent legal, betting on horse races online isn't necessarily illegal. "It's certainly closer to legal. Anything associated with horse racing tends to be legal," Joseph Kelly, professor of business law at SUNY College Buffalo and co-editor of the Gaming Law Review told PC Magazine.
With that said, there a number of websites taking bets on Saturday's race. Because you want to make sure you place a bet on a site that intends to actually pay the winners (that's the whole point, right?), it's important to know that the one you choose has a good reputation.
Your best bet is the official betting partner of the Kentucky Derby — TwinSpires. Only open to U.S. residents 18 or older, TwinSpires requires that you make an account, but doesn't cost and even offers a $100 bonus to sign up. The Kentucky Derby website directs fans to place bets through TwinSpire and recommends signing up before the derby so you can place bets immediately. You can put money in your TwinSpire account with PayPal, MoneyGram, or a credit card, but the Kentucky Derby's site recommends using EZ Bank to withdraw directly from your bank account without being charged a transaction fee.
Another option is Derby.com, based out of New York. After signing up, you can deposit money into your account through PayPal, Pay Near Me, InstaFund, ACH, or a credit card. However, it can't legally offer real money games to people in Alaska, Arizona, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, or Utah, according to its website.
The main bets you can place are for your horse to win (finishing in first), place (finishing in first or second), or show (finishing in first, second, or third). To win an exacta, your two horses have to finish in first and second in the order you chose, and to win a trifecta, your three horses have to finish in first, second, and third in the order you predicted.