How to bet the Derby

The Kentucky Derby is a tradition for racing enthusiasts and sports fans alike. It is the time of year when the entire country turns an eye to the sport of kings, and together we cheer for the top three-year-old Thoroughbreds as they run for the roses and perhaps even a Triple Crown.

This year marks the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby, held annually at the iconic Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. Some racing fans make an annual pilgrimage to the track each spring to take in all the action in person, while others watch from the comfort of their home. From home, fans enjoy extensive television coverage yet still wear ridiculous hats and make mint juleps. There are no crowds, no lines, and no chance for rain, but for many fans of the sport, something is missing.

What happens when you watch from home and the horse you like wins the Derby? Though it is exciting to cheer for your selection, there is the inevitable conversation with your friends in which you have to convince them that you picked that horse, and the more the horse paid, the harder it is to convince them. Meanwhile, you're kicking yourself, because you know you had that 50-1 shot. What a missed opportunity!

What many people may not realize is that you do not have to be at the track to bet on a horse race. Placing a wager on a horse race from your home is not a shady activity that you perform secretly with your bookie. Betting on racing online is legal, safe, and easy. Most online horse race betting sites have a mobile option as well, so you can be part of the action no matter where you are. This year, add online betting on the race to your list of Kentucky Derby party activities with these simple guidelines.

Safety First

To wager on the Kentucky Derby or any other horse race, the first and most important step is to choose an online company that facilitates betting. The main companies that offer account deposit wagering (ADW) in the United States are legal and licensed to operate under federal and state laws. Regulated by state governments, they offer secure ways to fund your betting account and they keep your money and your information safe. Offshore companies are not subject to regulation, so there are unknowns. Luckily, the brand name companies that advertise on the internet and television are the safe options; try a website like BetAmerica which is based and regulated right here in the U.S.

Getting Started

Now that you've found your new home to bet on the Kentucky Derby, complete their registration process and deposit money into your account. Most companies offer many deposit options, including credit card deposits, online ACH bank transfers and ways to deposit cash at your local 7-Eleven or Family Dollar Store with products like PayNearMe. Remember to take advantage of any sign-up bonuses they offer, and it may be best not to wait until the day of the Derby to sign up and deposit. Your money is safe and you can login and bet or withdraw it anytime.

Place Your Bets

Now, for the fun part -- playing the ponies. When you bet the Kentucky Derby online, you have access to the same bet types, odds, and payouts as you do at the track. Your bets go into the pool with those of everyone else, so all of the odds that you see online or on television are the same. These odds will fluctuate depending on how much has been bet on each horse, and the odds you receive are those that are released when the race begins.

Betting can be as simple as picking a horse to finish first, but there are many types of bets and combinations. Your online account should have resources available to explain the different types of bets available on the Kentucky Derby, but the best course is to start with basics and then graduate to more complicated bet types.

What's the Catch?

Sound too good to be true? It may be, depending on where you live. Most companies will only accept wagers from U.S. residents. Even then, online wagering is legal in most states, but not all, and some states are have restrictions on the races or tracks on which residents may wager. Online wagering companies provide this information, and if you are unsure, contact their customer service team for guidance and clarification. However, for most fans, wagering is legal and offers a new dimension of excitement for the fastest two minutes in sports.