North Carolina Race Tracks: Where to Bet on Horse Races in NC

Learn about North Carolina's race tracks and legal horse race betting options

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Gambling laws in US states vary, and in North Carolina, pari mutuel betting and horse racing betting are legal and regulated. While there are no dedicated horse racetracks or standalone off-track betting locations, you’ll find simulcasting available at two tribal casinos. Let’s take a look at the North Carolina horse racing industry.

Most Popular North Carolina Race Tracks

While North Carolina horse racing betting is legal and regulated, there are no actual North Carolina race tracks. To experience live racing, you’ll need to venture to a nearby state like Virginia, and this guide will help you find the best tracks to visit.

Colonial Downs Race Track

Address: 10515 Colonial Downs Parkway, New Kent, Virginia 23124
Phone: 804-966-7223

Colonial Downs Race Track is a premier destination for harness and thoroughbred betting. With a racing season from July to September, this 1 and 1/4 mile track hosts races every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, featuring popular events such as the Virginia Derby and Virginia Gold Cup.

You’ll have the opportunity to place various types of bets, including Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Quinella, and Trifecta. On Mondays, enjoy non-wagering steeplechase races before the regular thoroughbred events.

Colonial Downs

General admission is free, granting you access to ground-level outdoor trackside views. If you prefer, reserve grandstand seating, boxes, or indoor seating complete with dining options. You can also participate in simulcast wagering on races held nationwide.

The venue boasts 6,000 seats in the Grandstand and 500 seats in the Clubhouse. Don’t forget to bring the family on Saturdays for family day, an event open to all ages. Beyond the track, Colonial Downs hosts Rosie’s Gaming Emporium, with over 600 historical horse racing machines.

Simulcast Wagering in North Carolina

If you’re looking to get in on the action of simulcast wagering, you’re in luck. North Carolina offers two tribal casinos that provide this type of wagering. Read on to discover more about these venues.

Betting LocationAddress
Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel & Casino777 Casino Dr, Cherokee, NC 28719
Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River777 Casino Pkwy, Murphy, NC 28906

Popular Horse Races in North Carolina with Dates

While North Carolina may not host any horse races, neighboring Virginia offers a spectacular lineup of popular events. Here’s a list of the most exciting horse races held in Virginia, complete with dates.

Horse RacesRacing DatesWhere to Bet
Virginia DerbySeptemberColonial Downs
Virginia Gold CupMayColonial Downs
Virginia OaksOctoberColonial Downs
International Gold CupOctoberColonial Downs

Types of Legal Horse Betting in North Carolina

While there is regulated and legal North Carolina horse racing betting, it’s important to note that the state doesn’t offer any North Carolina race tracks or events. So, if you’re eager to experience the thrill of a live horse race, you’ll need to venture to a neighboring state.

But don’t worry, your journey will be well rewarded with a wide variety of betting options available. You can place bets such as Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Superfecta, Quinella, Daily Double, Pick 3, and many more.

Not only that, but you also have the chance to bet on different types of horses, including thoroughbreds and quarter horses. Additionally, the types of races range from thoroughbred and quarter horse racing to harness racing. So, despite the lack of live North Carolina horse racing, there’s plenty of action just a short trip away.

Other Types of Gambling in North Carolina

Check out all the details you need on North Carolina gambling laws and other forms of gambling in the state:

History of North Carolina Horse Racing

The history of North Carolina horse racing has seen significant changes, especially with the introduction of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Although PASPA initially prohibited sports betting, its repeal in 2018 opened doors for states to legalize various forms of betting.

North Carolina racing betting has taken a unique trajectory. Back in 2012, the state legalized online horse racing betting, which was a progressive move. However, the actual operation of online betting platforms was delayed.

The law stipulated that state regulators needed to adopt additional regulations and process licensing requests before online betting could commence. This gave local regulators a one-year window to begin issuing licenses to horse racing betting sites.

In 2019, tribal casinos got the green light to accept in-person wagers for horse racing, providing a much-needed boost to the industry.

If you’re a horse racing enthusiast in North Carolina, by around June 2024, the first horse racing betting site should be up and running, ready to take your wagers. Until then, you can enjoy simulcasting and pari mutuel wagering at the two tribal casinos in the state.

North Carolina Gambling FAQ

Is North Carolina horse racing legal?

Yes, horse racing is legal in North Carolina. You can place bets on horse races at tribal casinos, which were authorized to accept in-person wagers in 2019. In addition, online horse racing betting was legalized in 2023, although it’s subject to additional regulations and licensing requests. Therefore, you have both in-person and online options for betting on horse races in North Carolina.

Can I bet on horse races in other states?

Yes, you can bet on horse races in other states. However, North Carolina does not have standalone off-track betting locations. To place these bets, you would need to visit one of the state’s two tribal casinos, which are authorized to accept such wagers. Always be safe and follow responsible and safe gambling practices.

What’s the largest race track in North Carolina?

Actually, there are no North Carolina race tracks. While the state does permit betting on horse races, it currently does not have any operational race tracks.

Can I bet on horse races online in North Carolina?

Yes, you can bet on horse races online in North Carolina, but not just yet. While online betting has been legalized in the state, it won’t be operational until June 2024. So, while you can’t place your bets online right now, you will be able to do so in the near future.

How can I bet on North Carolina horse racing events?

While there are no horse racing events in North Carolina, you can still place bets on races held in other states. You can do this at the state’s two tribal casinos, which offer simulcasting facilities. Alternatively, you can visit nearby states that have horse racing tracks and place your bets there.

What’s the minimum age to bet on horses in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, the minimum age to gamble on horses is 18 years old. So, you must be at least 18 years old to place a bet on horse racing in this state.

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