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How to Bet on the Kentucky Derby Online

2015 Kentucky Derby2015 Kentucky Derby
Jockey Victor Espinoza celebrates as he guides American Pharoah after crossing the finish line to win the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 2, 2015.Photo by Chris Graythen—Getty Images

The Kentucky Derby is set to kick off in mere hours—at 6:34 p.m. Eastern, to be precise—and will be all over in about two minutes. Somewhat amazingly, it’s legal to bet on horseracing online in most U.S. states. (Here’s a rundown of each state’s rules.)

There are several reputable portals for online horserace betting. offers substantial signup bonuses, amounting to 20% of the first $2,500 you bet. is the official portal of Churchill Downs and the Derby itself, though it offers betting on races worldwide.

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Those sites, by the way, don’t charge a fee for betting as long as you link withdrawals directly to your bank account. That’s not surprising, since gambling odds are already carefully engineered to make sure the house comes out ahead overall.

Other horse betting sites include TVG and Bovada. Bovada uses a Latvian domain and also takes bets on sports other than horseracing, which are less likely to be legal in the U.S.

If you want to get really adventurous, you could try betting with Bitcoin. Bitcoin has a long relationship with gambling, since you can use it relatively anonymously online. Nitrogen Sports and DirectBet are Bitcoin-based sportsbooks that are considered reputable (at least by Bitcoin standards). Both sites tout their anonymity, though DirectBet seems to have the edge there—you don’t need an account on the site at all, just a Bitcoin wallet.

If you want to go the Bitcoin route, though, be aware that it’s not impossible for authorities to trace these transactions. If it’s not legal to bet in your locale, don’t use Bitcoin to push your luck.

As you look over the various betting sites, you’ll notice that both their interfaces and the betting options can be pretty overwhelming. PC Magazine has a useful explainer that walks you through both some of the betting sites’ technical hurdles, and the complex logic of betting odds and strategies.