With No Sportsbooks, Kentucky Derby Biggest Gambling Event In Florida

Written By Steve Schult on April 21, 2023 - Last Updated on June 17, 2024
Kentucky Derby is biggest gambling event in Florida, from playfl.com

Horse racing’s most prestigious event is a few weeks away, with the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 6.

Even though sports betting is tied up in the Florida legal system, Sunshine State bettors can wager on horse racing. In other words, Floridians can put on a big, floppy hat and pick their favorite stallion.

The Florida horse racing industry is one of the most well-established racing markets in the country. With Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs spreading races throughout most of the year, Florida is full of horse bettors.

With that in mind, here’s how to bet on the Kentucky Derby in Florida.

Where you can bet

One of the most convenient options for Florida gamblers is to wager from the comfort of their living room. Multiple online racebooks are available so that you can place bets from your phone.

FanDuel Racing is one of the most popular options in the state. Additionally, it’s giving Derby bettors a $20 No Sweat Bet from May 1-May 6.

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Other major operators like Caesars and BetMGM have their racebook apps available in Florida.

If you want an in-person experience for your Kentucky Derby betting, there is plenty of simulcast betting at Florida pari-mutuels. In total, 22 pari-mutuels and racetracks offer simulcast horse racing. Notable facilities include Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs, Hialeah Park Race Track, Magic City Casino, Palm Beach Kennel Club and Calder Casino.

RELATED: A Guide To Casinos In Florida

Simulcast betting means there is a televised or streamed broadcast of the race where you are betting. In other words, it’s closer to the experience of a Las Vegas-style sportsbook.

These pari-mutuel facilities often have poker rooms as well as racebooks. There are countless options throughout the state, regardless of your region.

Types of bets you can make

If you’re already familiar with how sports betting works, you know that there are several types of bets you can make on a match. You can bet the point spread, the moneyline, the Over/Under or one of the endless player prop bets available.

It’s no different in horse racing. There are several different types of bets to choose from. But these are the basics.

  • Win: It’s as simple as it sounds. You’re picking the horse you think will win the race.
  • Place: Pick a horse that you think will finish second or better.
  • Show: Bet on a horse that will finish third or better.
  • Exactas: Pick the order of the top two finishers. Some bettors will “box” this bet. Boxing your wager will change the bet so that any combination of the selected horses wins the wager.
  • Trifectas: Selecting the top three finishes in order. This bet can also be boxed.
  • The Key: This is where you pick a horse that will win the race. Then choose three other horses to finish second and third. For example, a trifecta key with the “1” over the “2-3-4” means the 1 horse must win and any combo of the other three horses finishing second and third is a winning ticket.
  • Superfecta: Pick the top four hoses in the correct order. Since the bet is very specific, it’s one of the hardest to win. On the other hand, with longer odds, the payout is larger.

How pari-mutuel wagering works

Horse racing differs slightly from most other sports betting forms because it is a pari-mutuel format.

In traditional sports betting, the operator sets odds before the match and you can pick which side of the bet you want. As more money comes in, the sportsbook can change the odds in either direction.

But you’ll always know exactly what you stand to win on a bet. This is known as fixed-rate betting and it’s not the same process as pari-mutuel wagering.

With pari-mutuel wagering, the operator doesn’t make the odds before the event. Instead, the racebook pools every bet placed on specific horses and odds change based on how much money is on each horse.

The operator takes a small fee for running the pool and calculating the payouts. The remaining money is up for grabs. But you won’t know what you stand to win until just before the race starts.

Horses were qualifying for the Kentucky Derby at racetracks throughout the country all year. The lineup and draw for the race will be released on Monday, May 1.

Then, bettors have five days to research horses and make their picks before Saturday’s race at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Other Triple Crown races

The Kentucky Derby is the first of a three-race series called the Triple Crown. Only 13 horses in the sport’s history have won all three races to secure the Triple Crown. The other two races are:

  • Preakness Stakes (Pimlico, May 20)
  • Belmont Stakes (Belmont Park, June 10)
Photo by AP / Matt Slocum
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Written by
Steve Schult

As Managing Editor of PlayFL, Steve will stay on top of all things related to the Florida gaming industry. He is also a veteran of the gambling world. The native New Yorker started covering high-stakes tournaments in 2009 for some of poker's most prominent media outlets before adding the broader U.S. gaming market to his beat in 2018.

View all posts by Steve Schult