Off Track Betting Explained: How & Where to Bet

Have you wondered how it feels betting on a horse race away from the actual racetrack? Off track betting is a type of sanctioned gambling involving bets on the outcome of a horse or greyhound race at a physical location away from the actual place of a race. 

In this piece, readers will understand how off-track betting works, the convenience it brings with it, and how it differs from traditional betting.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding off track betting and how it works.
  • Know the benefits of offtrack betting as well as how to use off track betting apps.

Understanding Off Track Betting

Off track betting, which can also be referred to as off track wagering, simply means sanctioned betting on horse racing away from the racetrack

Its basic principles include offering parimutuel betting on the outcome of horse and greyhound races, charging a commission on all winnings, and odds being defined by the amount of money wagered on each outcome of the bets placed. 

There can be a couple of differences between traditional betting and off-track betting. Unlike traditional betting where all bets take place at the racetrack, OTB takes place at a physical location away from the tracks. And whereas OTB involves wagering on horse or greyhound races, traditional betting could involve a wider range of events. 

As per regulation on each of them, Off-track betting is regulated by the state in which it is located, but traditional betting may be regulated by different authorities.

→ Find out about horse racing rules and regulations here.

The History of Off Track Betting

Back in the nineties (1933), off-track betting was legalized in Ohio (Nevada), becoming the first state to achieve that. The Ohio Racing Commission was then formed, to oversee and regulate its activities.

In 1970, the New York State Legislature passed the first off-track betting law and then established the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation, which started taking bets a year later. Soon, over 100 betting parlors were established in New York City. Schenectady soon followed New York City’s lead and rolled out its own OTB Corporation in 1972.

In 1988, Pennsylvania legalized their own off-track betting, becoming the fifth state to do so.

In 2008, New York City Off-Track Betting was taken over by New York State and a year later, the corporation filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

Until today, off-track betting is still offered by five regional corporations in New York City, each being run separately by a board of directors installed by the governments of the participating cities.

How Off Track Betting Works 

As off-track betting involves placing bets on horse and greyhound races at a physical place away from the racetracks, let us take a look at how this can be done.

  1. First, bettors must create an account with a licensed off-track betting operator and fund it. The account usually involves certain details about the bettor, including full name, age, proof of residency, etc. There are also physical locations like betting houses, and betting shops where bettors can go to place their bets. The bettor makes his selections for the bet from a list of the races available.
  2. You can actually have a chance to choose the type of bet you want to place. Examples like win, place, show, exacta, and trifecta. 
  3. Bettors can then enter the amount they wish to bet with and confirm the bet placed. 
  4. The bet is then transmitted to the off-track betting operator’s software, where all the bets and the odds attached to each are processed in real-time. Typically, OTB operators run custom-built software that manages the betting processes as well as supply updates as they happen.
  5. The parimutuel pool collects all the bets placed on the same race and stores them. Each bettor’s bet on that particular race goes into this pool. 
  6. The OTB operator’s software calculates the odds based on the pool’s total amount and the number of bets on each outcome. 
  7. Finally, at the end of the race, winning bettors get their accounts credited with their prize monies by the off-track betting operator’s system. Mind that the OTB software has a technology that stores all race data, and betting history as well as an efficient and secure facility that takes care of funding and withdrawing.

Benefits of Off Track Betting 

Off-track betting offers bettors several advantages including convenience, wider access to betting markets, and a larger number of betting options.

Let us explain these merits:

  • Convenience and accessibility: Bettors do not need to visit the racetracks to bet as off-track betting ensures all events are readily accessible from their mobile apps from anywhere.
  • Broader access: There is wider access to betting markets that may not be available on-site when bettors use off-track betting platforms.
  • Variety of betting options: Off-track betting provides bettors with a wide variety of betting options, including prop bets, exotic bets, and futures, all of which may not be available on-site.
  • Bonuses and promotions: OTB platforms offer their users certain incentives and loyalty bonuses to retain them, and attract even more users.
  • Competitive odds: Often times, the odds offered on events by OTB operators are bigger than the numbers one will find at racetracks. 

I’ve been betting on horses for years, and I’ve found that the odds at OTB platforms are often more favorable than what I’d get at the track.

I mean, I’ve seen differences of up to 2–3 points in some races! That may not seem like a lot, but it adds up over time. Plus, I can bet on races from across the world, not just the local tracks. It’s made a big difference in my winnings. 

A regular OTB user, Nathan Jones

Off Track Betting Locations 

While you can find OTB locations close to you by visiting the websites of licensed off-track betting operators and reputable sources, here are some popular physical and online operators. 

For physical shops:

  • Resorts World Catskills (Monticello, New York) offers horse racing, sports betting, and casino games. 
  • Tampa Bay Downs (Tampa, FL) also offers horse racing and sports betting for their customers.
  • Empire City Casino (Yonkers, NY) has horse racing, sports betting, and casino games available. 
  • Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment (East Rutherford, New Jersey) Horse racing, sports betting, and casino games are also offered here.

For online platforms:

  • FanDuel Racing is available in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Colorado.
  • TwinSpires, BetAmerica, TVG, and Churchill Downs Online are available in most states. 
  • NYRA Bets is available in NY, NJ, PA, and Florida.

Using Off Track Betting Apps 

Offering plenty of advantages as well as exciting features, off-track betting apps come in handy for bettors.

Featuring real-time odds and results updates, live streaming of races, a variety of betting options, user-friendly interfaces, convenient deposit and withdrawal gateways, there can be no shortage of the benefits one can get using off-track betting apps. 

If you’re at a loss at where and how to find these apps, worry no more as we will take you through how to do this in some easy steps:

  1. Search for ‘OTB apps’ or ‘horse racing betting apps’ in your device’s app store (preferably Apple App Store or Google Play Store).
  2. Look out for reputable app operators like TVG, FanDuel Racing, NYRA Bets, and a host of others. Vegas Insider, a seasoned gambling review site, rates FanDuel highly with these words,
    Everything on the site and app is laid out in a basic fashion. There is a tutorial on understanding horse racing odds. There is also a “Best Bets of the Day” section with insider tips. All the races can be viewed live through FanDuel’s streaming options.”
  3. Download and install any of their app(s) you wish to use.
  4. Then create an account by registering with your personal information and funding it with any of the deposit gateways provided.
  5. Browse through the app’s features and navigate to the betting section.
  6. Select your desired bet type, choose your horse(s), and confirm your wager.
  7. Monitor your bets and account balance in real-time.

Off Track Betting Shops 

Off-track betting shops often strive to ensure their customers are provided with the best of clientele atmosphere and top-quality services.

These services could include maintaining a lively and energetic atmosphere, providing multiple screens showing live races and sporting events, comfortable seatings, and above all, a social environment where bettors from all walks of life can converge and discuss races.

In off-track betting shops, while you’re most likely to find avid horse racing enthusiasts and regular sports bettors, you will also find newbies to sports betting.

In a bid to beef up their customer service, there could be some added perks involving provision of food and beverage services to their customers, loyalty bonuses and special promotions, as well as viewing centers for live games. 

Nathan, an OTB shop customer, was thrilled with the level of service he got at Resorts World Catskills, Monticello, NY:

Always a great time there, I must say. They’ve got beautiful facilities with a great selection of games and races. And the food at the bar? Very delicious.

The Off Track Betting Schedule 

To keep track of OTB schedules on events and races, bettors need to follow some important steps so as not to miss out on events and races. These steps include researching online, following industry experts on social media, checking out racetrack websites, and visiting off track betting locations, among others.

Let us explain some of these:

  1. Online research: Bettors can use search engines to research the schedules of events and races that appeal to them, as well as check results. 
  2. Usage of social media: You can use social medias to keep in track of schedules by following OTB operators and industry specialists. 
  3. Racetrack website: You can also check the website of the specific racetrack hosting the event you’re interested in for their schedule and simulcast information. Check out some upcoming racing schedules on the Western New York OTB website here.
  4. Visiting Off track betting locations: One can also visit an OTB location in person and ask for their schedule of events. 
  5. Usage of Google calendar: Also set up a Google calendar with OTB schedules to get specific reminders on events. 
  6. Usage of mobile apps: Use mobile apps like FanDuel Racing, TVG or NYRA Bets to access OTB schedules, place bets and follow results as they happen. 

Off Track Horse Betting 

Offtrack betting on horse racing is very popular among sports fans, offering bettors a chance to wager on their favorite sport without being physically present at the racetrack, with its convenience and accessibility making it even more fun. 

Bettors also count on some strategies to bet on horses for positive results. These strategies include handicapping, daily double, favorite-long shot-favorite (FLF), show betting, hedging, and a host of others. 

  • Handicapping: Studying horse’s performances, jockeys, trainers, and track conditions can help bettors make the best decisions when betting on horses.
  • Daily double: This is a system where bettors wager on two consecutive races, mostly the first and second of the day. Typically, the winnings from the first race are used to bet on the winner of the second.
  • Favorite-long shot-favorite (FLF): Here, bettors bet on a favorite in successive races, with a longshot bet in between. In the event that the longshot bet defies the odds and comes out successful, the bettor makes even more money.
  • Hedging: This strategy involves betting on multiple horses in one or both races to minimize losses and lock in profit.
  • Don’t hesitate to bet against the favorite:

Don’t be always afraid to bet against the favorite, especially if they’re overhyped.

When you’ve got that gut feeling that a horse stands a chance despite the bookies not backing it, give a go. Sometimes, these kinds of punt have earned a fortune.

Jonathon Kinchen, a professional bettor and handicapper

So, Will You Try Off Track Betting Tonight? 

We believe you have understood what off track betting entails now, and how you can leverage it to get enhanced payouts in your betting activities. 

Always remember to use all that you’ve learned from this article, whether you’re betting on horses on the tracks or you’re using mobile apps to bet on events.

Want to learn more about sports betting? Have a look at our Sports Betting 101 section here.