Texas has a rich horse racing history with roots that can be traced back to the late 19th century. Live horse racing was a big draw for quite some time, but that has changed in recent decades with the local industry shrinking and reduced options for betting on horse racing.
Today, there are just three horse racing venues in Texas. Wager is permitted in-person at each track, but online racing betting is prohibited.
Online Racing Betting in Texas
It is illegal to bet on horse racing online in Texas. Article 11 of the Texas Racing Act was amended in 2011 to make it clear that advance deposit wagering is prohibited:
Wagering may be conducted only by an association within its enclosure. A person may not accept, in person, by telephone, or over the Internet, a wager for a horse race or greyhound race conducted inside or outside this state from a person in this state unless the wager is authorized under this Act.
There have been efforts to change the law through the years, though. Most recently, bill HB 3296 was introduced in 2017 with the goal of amending the act. While there was optimism that some headway would be made, the bill was never able to advance beyond the committee stage.
Licensed Texas Racetracks
There are three venues to watch live horse racing in Texas. Racing is also featured at select fair events throughout the year.
1000 Lone Star Parkway
Grand Prairie, TX 75050
This venue first opened its doors in 1997. The spring and summer racing calendar runs from April through mid-July. The action picks back up with a fall series that runs from September to mid-November. Visitors will find dining options and simulcast facilities, as well as occasional non-racing events throughout the year.
1 Retama Parkway
Selma, TX 78154
Retama opened in 1995 and is part of the Penn National Gaming family. Live quarter horse racing is featured in the summer months, while thoroughbreds have run of the track in the fall. This facility also hosts various non-racing events during the year. Simulcast wagering is offered daily, and there are a trio of dining options for guests to enjoy.
7575 North Sam Houston Parkway West
Houston, TX 77064
Located in Houston, this venue opened for business in 1994. Both quarter horses and thoroughbreds are raced here as well. This is a popular destination, as the park plays host to concerts and various events throughout the year. Dining and concession options are available on site, as is a simulcast facility which features racing from across the nation.
Off-Track Betting in Texas
There are no dedicated off-track betting facilities located in Texas, but each of the state’s three racing venues have simulcast facilities located on site.
Lone Star Park
The simulcast facility at Lone Star Park is known as the Bar and Book. The venue is open seven days per week and features a full assortment of races from the top tracks. There are HDTVs located throughout the facility, which also includes a sports bar with daily drink specials.
Retama is open for simulcast wagering every day, with the exception of Christmas. A full calendar of the day’s racing schedule can be found on the track’s website. Races from all of the top harness and thoroughbred tracks are available to watch and wager on.
Sam Houston Race Park
This venue is also open year-round and features races from tracks across the nation. Sam Houston boasts 500 TVs spread throughout the simulcasting facility and numerous seating options. For an extra fee, visitors can also gain access to a Las Vegas style Player’s Lounge.
Texas Horse Racing Betting Laws
It is legal to bet on horse racing in Texas, but all wagers must be placed in person at one of the state’s three operating race tracks. The three venues also offer simulcast facilities, but there are no other off-track or online betting options in Texas.
The commission shall adopt rules to regulate wagering on greyhound races and horse races under the system known as pari-mutuel wagering. Wagering may be conducted only by an association within its enclosure. A person may not accept, in person, by telephone, or over the Internet, a wager for a horse race or greyhound race conducted inside or outside this state from a person in this state unless the wager is authorized under this Act.
There have been efforts through the years to modify the state’s stance on internet wagering, but the most recent attempt failed to advance out of the committee stage.
Major Horse Racing Events in Texas
- Lone Star Derby: Held annually at Lone Star Park, this is an 8.5-furlong ungraded stakes race for three-year-olds on turf.
- Texas Champions Day: This is a day full of racing held at Sam Houston Park in March which features Texas-bred horses.
- Texas Classic Futurity: This is a Grade 1 stakes race for two-year-old quarter horses run at Lone Star Park with a $1 million purse.