is horse racing legal in all 50 states

Horse racing has legal status in most US states, but regulations and allowances may vary. Some states have commercial tracks that offer pari-mutuel betting, while others solely allow simulcast wagering on races conducted outside their borders. Non-wagering events like steeplechase competitions and equestrian shows may also be legal. However, there are a few states where all forms of horse racing are prohibited due to concerns about animal welfare, gambling addiction, and the overall influence on local communities. It’s advisable to check the specific laws and regulations of each state before engaging in any horse racing activities.

State-by-State Legality of Horse Racing

Horse racing is a popular form of entertainment enjoyed by millions of Americans. But the legality of horse racing varies from state to state. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the legal status of horse racing in each of the 50 United States:


As you can see, horse racing is legal in the majority of US states. However, there are a few notable exceptions, such as Alaska and Hawaii. In these states, horse racing is prohibited by law.

It’s important to note that even in states where horse racing is legal, there may be certain restrictions in place. For example, some states only allow parimutuel betting, while others allow both parimutuel and account wagering.

If you’re planning on attending a horse race, it’s always a good idea to check the local laws and regulations to make sure that you’re not breaking any rules.

History of Horse Racing Regulation in the U.S.

Horse racing has a long and storied history in the United States, dating back to the early days of the country. The first recorded horse race in the U.S. was held in 1665 on Long Island, New York. Horse racing quickly became popular, and by the early 19th century, there were racetracks in most major cities.

However, horse racing was not always legal in the U.S. In the early 1900s, there was a growing movement to ban gambling, and horse racing was seen as a form of gambling. As a result, many states banned horse racing, and by the 1920s, it was illegal in most of the country.

In the 1930s, there was a resurgence of interest in horse racing, and several states began to legalize it again. By the 1950s, horse racing was legal in most states, and it has remained so ever since.

Current Status of Horse Racing Regulation in the U.S.

Today, horse racing is legal in 49 of the 50 states. The only state where horse racing is not legal is Utah. In the 49 states where horse racing is legal, there are a variety of regulations in place to ensure the safety of the horses and the jockeys, and to prevent gambling-related problems.

Some of the most common regulations include:

  • Horses must be registered with the state racing commission.
  • Jockeys must be licensed by the state racing commission.
  • Race tracks must be licensed by the state racing commission.
  • Betting on horse races is only allowed at licensed race tracks.

These regulations help to ensure that horse racing is conducted in a safe and fair manner.

Table of Horse Racing Regulations by State

The following table provides a summary of the horse racing regulations in each of the 49 states where horse racing is legal:

StateLegalization DateRacing CommissionNumber of Race Tracks
Alabama1981Alabama Racing Commission4
Alaska1982Alaska Racing Commission2
Arizona1984Arizona Racing Commission5
Arkansas1983Arkansas Racing Commission3
California1852California Horse Racing Board32
Colorado1984Colorado Racing Commission4
Connecticut1985Connecticut Horse Racing Commission2
Delaware1983Delaware Racing Commission3
Florida1951Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering13
Georgia1984Georgia Racing Commission4
Idaho1983Idaho State Racing Commission3
Illinois1985Illinois Racing Board7
Indiana1983Indiana Horse Racing Commission6
Iowa1982Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission5
Kansas1985Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission3
Kentucky1984Kentucky Horse Racing Commission5
Louisiana1934 Louisiana Racing Commission6
Maine1983Maine Racing Commission2
Maryland1931Maryland Racing Commission3
Massachusetts1985Massachusetts Gaming Commission2
Michigan1983Michigan Gaming Control Board6
Minnesota1984Minnesota Racing Commission5
Mississippi1984 Mississippi Gaming Commission4
Missouri1984Missouri Racing Commission4
Montana1985 Montana Racing Commission3
Nebraska1984 Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission4
Nevada1931 Nevada Gaming Control Board9
New Hampshire1985 New Hampshire Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission2
New Jersey1983 New Jersey Racing Commission5
New Mexico1984 New Mexico Racing Commission3
New York1951New York State Racing and Wagering Board10
North Carolina1985North Carolina Racing Commission2
North Dakota1984North Dakota Racing Commission3
Ohio1984Ohio Racing Commission7
Oklahoma1984 Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission4
Oregon1983Oregon Racing Commission4
Pennsylvania1931Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission7
Rhode Island1985 Rhode Island Racing Commission2
South Carolina1983South Carolina Racing Commission2
South Dakota1982South Dakota Racing Commission3
Tennessee1985Tennessee Racing Commission3
Texas1984Texas Racing Commission11
Vermont1985Vermont Racing Commission2
Virginia1983Virginia Racing Commission4
Washington1983Washington Horse Racing Commission4
West Virginia1983 West Virginia Racing Commission2
Wisconsin1984 Wisconsin Racing Commission5

Horse Racing Legality Across the United States

Horse racing, a sport deeply ingrained in American culture, holds varying legal statuses across the 50 states. While it’s generally legal in most states, some exceptions and special permitting requirements apply in certain jurisdictions.


  • Alaska: Horse racing is illegal for betting purposes.
  • Rhode Island: Only pari-mutuel betting is allowed.

Special Permitting

Certain states require special permits for horse racing events:

  • Connecticut: Special permit required from the Department of Consumer Protection.
  • Hawaii: Races can only be held at the Kapolei Race Track with a permit from the Hawaii Horse Racing Authority.
  • Kentucky: County-level approval required for tracks outside Jefferson County.
  • Vermont: Special permit required for Sunday racing.

State-by-State Legal Status

The following table summarizes the legal status of horse racing in each state:

StateLegal Status
AlaskaIllegal for betting

Horse Racing Legality in the United States

Horse racing is a popular sport enjoyed by many Americans, but its legality varies from state to state. While some states have embraced horse racing and legalized it, others have strict laws prohibiting it. Let’s delve into the legal implications for horse racing participants in each state.

Legal Implications for Horse Racing Participants

  • Owners:
    • Legal in most states with horse racing tracks.
    • May face legal penalties if racing in an illegal state.
  • Trainers:
    • Must be licensed and registered in states where horse racing is legal.
    • Can face discipline or legal action for violating racing regulations.
  • Jockeys:
    • Require a license to ride in legal racing states.
    • May be subject to penalties for rule violations or improper riding.

State-by-State Legalization Status

The following table provides a summary of horse racing legality in all 50 states:

StateLegal Status


Horse racing legality varies widely across the United States. While many states have legalized the sport, others maintain strict prohibitions. Participants in the horse racing industry must be aware of the legal implications in each state where they operate. Legal compliance helps ensure the safety and integrity of the sport for both the participants and the horses involved.
Welp, there you have it, folks! Now you know the ins and outs of horse racing legality across the good ol’ US of A. Whether you’re a seasoned bettor or just curious, we hope this article has enlightened you. Thanks for joining us on this wild ride, and be sure to check back in later for more racing-related tidbits. We’ll keep you in the loop with the latest news and events. Until next time, stay curious and keep your eyes on the finish line!