Horse Racing And Off-Track Betting In Connecticut

Horse racing has a long history in Connecticut, a tradition that runs hand-in-hand with legal horse betting.

Despite that legality, however, there are no horse racing tracks currently operational in the state. That said, horse racing fans in Connecticut still have plenty of options when it comes to betting on horses to win, place or show.

Off-track betting (OTB) is huge in Connecticut, with many OTB parlors scattered throughout the state. What’s more, there are racebooks at each of the state’s two casinos, Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun.

Bettors can also place wagers online via the state-run OTB website, Winners, or through other out-of-state horse betting sites that serve those in Connecticut, such as TVG and TwinSpires.

Here’s an overview of horse racing and off-track betting in Connecticut, including information about OTB facilities, online horse betting options, common types of horse racing bets, and a history of off-track betting in Connecticut.

What off-track betting facilities are in Connecticut?

At present, there are 12 off-track betting parlors located throughout Connecticut, all of which are operated by Sportech Venues, Inc., a division New Haven-based Sportech PLC. Sportech offers legal betting on thoroughbred and harness horse racing, greyhound racing, and jai alai.

OTB ParlorLocation
Winners Bradley11 Schoephoester Road, Windsor Locks, CT 06096
Winners Hartford121 Brainard Road, Hartford, CT 06114
Winners Manchester103 Tolland Turnpike, Manchester, CT 06042
Winners Milford89 Roses Mill Road, Milford, CT 06460
Winners New Britain160 East Main Street, New Britain, CT 06051
Winners Norwalk24 Burnell Boulevard, Norwalk, CT 06800
Winners Putnam146 Park Road, Putnam, CT 06260
Winners Shoreline Star255 Kossuth Street, Bridgeport, CT 06608
Winners Sports Haven600 Long Wharf Drive, New Haven, CT 06511
Winners Stamford268 Atlantic Street, Stamford, CT 06901
Winners Torrington141 Water Street, Torrington, CT 06790
Winners Waterbury155 Thomaston Avenue, Waterbury, CT 06710

Bettors can travel to OTB sites to place bets on a variety of races from around the world, each available for viewing via closed-circuit. They can also bet on races online via Sportech’s Winners website.

Off-track betting enables fans to wager on a wide variety of races throughout the calendar year. These include the most popular horse racing events in the world, such as the three Triple Crown races: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.

The entire state is well-covered, with most OTBs located in the middle third of the state. Meanwhile, parlors in Bridgeport, Northwalk and Stamford serve those in the southwest, while the Putman location is convenient for those in northeast Connecticut.

Is online horse betting legal in Connecticut?

Yes, it is legal to bet on horse races online in Connecticut. Those who do must be at least 18 years of age.

Winners (Sportech)

Many enjoy betting on horses via the Sportech website, Winners. You must be in Connecticut to place bets on Winners. The site employs geolocation technology to ensure all bettors are physically located within the state when they place their wagers.

Winners provides an online wagering platform that enables legal betting on races from over 100 thoroughbred, harness, and greyhound tracks from around the world. The site also offers betting on jai alai.

Bettors can create accounts and place bets via a web-based browser or on mobile devices by downloading and using the Winners app, available for both iOS and Android.

Other online horse betting sites

Horse racing fans in Connecticut can also place wagers at off-track betting websites located outside of the state. These operate similarly to Winners in that they enable wagering on races from all around the world. The most popular of these sites are TVG and TwinSpires.

TVG is an Oregon-based online horse and greyhound betting operator with its own satellite television network. Famed horse racing company Churchill Downs Inc., out of Louisville, Kentucky, operates TwinSpires. The TVG site advertises that it covers over 400 tracks worldwide, while TwinSpires invites users to bet on races from over 150 tracks.

Both TVG and TwinSpires can be accessed from Connecticut, among other states, either by visiting the respective website on a computer or by using each site’s mobile app. Like Winners, the TVG and TwinSpires apps are available for both Apple and Android devices.

The apps each have different features, which enable users to perform a variety of tasks, including:

  • Filter available races to highlight favorite tracks or race types
  • Consult past performances, race replays, and use other handicapping tools
  • Live stream and view races
  • Check wagering and funding history
  • Various banking options for depositing and withdrawing

Common types of bets

There are many different ways to bet on horse races that go well beyond simply betting on a particular horse to win.

In Connecticut and elsewhere, when you place a wager on a race, you are participating in pari-mutuel wagering, which is different from fixed-odds betting.

With fixed-odds betting, when you place your bet you do so at whatever odds are being presented at the moment of betting. The odds for that particular bet might change, but they won’t change for you.

However, with pari-mutuel wagering, odds change right up until the moment the race begins. The odds are affected by how others bet on the race as well. So when you place a bet on a horse to win at 4-to-1, by post time the odds could be 3-to-1 in which case you would win three times your bet (not four) if your horse wins.

When it comes to different types of wagers, the most common ones are called “straight” bets in which the bet is on a single outcome. Many also like to make “exotic” bets that involve two or more outcomes, which might be compared to parlays in sports betting.

Types of straight horse racing bets

In horse racing, the most common straight bets are “win,” “place,” and “show” bets.

  • Win: A bet on a horse to finish first and win the race.
  • Place: A bet on a horse to finish first or second.
  • Show: A bet on a horse to finish first, second, or third.

You can also place a “Win/Place/Show” bet, also called an “across the board” bet. This type of wager is really three bets in one, combining win, place, and show bets. If the horse wins, the bettor wins all three bets; if the horse finishes second, the bettor wins the place and show bets; and a third-place finish means winning the show bet only. A $2 “across the board” bet costs $6.

There are other bet combinations available as well (e.g., “Win/Place,” “Place/Show”) that are again like making multiple bets at once. These are still considered straight bets, though, as they only require a single outcome to be winners.

Exotic horse racing bets

There are many different exotic bets in horse racing, too. Exotic bets are popular in part because their payoffs are often quite big, although the chances of winning are usually quite slim.

Many exotic bets involve trying to predict how multiple horses will finish a particular race. Some examples include:

  • Exacta: A bet on two horses to finish first and second in a race (exactly).
  • Trifecta: A bet on three horses to finish first, second, and third (in that exact order).
  • Superfecta: A bet on four horses to finish first, second, third, and fourth (again, in that exact order).
  • Quinella: A bet on two horses to finish first and second, with the order not mattering.

That quinella bet is an example of an “exacta box” bet. The “box” designation simply means you only have to pick the top finishers correctly and don’t have to predict the exact order of finish to win your bet. You can also place a “trifecta box” bet or a “superfecta box” bet.

A variation on the same theme is a “wheel” bet (or a “part wheel” bet) in which the bettor chooses multiple horses to finish in certain spots.

A “key” bet similarly forces the bettor to pick a particular finish for one horse but allows the bettor to “box” the other selected horses. A “trifecta key” bet, for example, might pick one particular horse to win and any of three other horses to finish second or third (in any order).

Another type of exotic bet involves wagering on multiple races at once (again, like a parlay bet). Popular examples include:

  • Daily Double: A bet on which horses will win two consecutive races
  • Pick 3: A bet on which horses will win three consecutive races
  • Pick 4: A bet on which horses will win four consecutive races
  • Pick 6: A bet on which horses will win six consecutive races
  • Pick All: A bet on which horses will win all of the races on a track’s schedule that day

To complicate things further, these multi-race bets can be combined with other bet types as well. So you could bet on multiple horses in multiple races.

Thankfully, online sites automatically calculate the odds for you when placing these exotic bets so you can always know just how big of a long shot your bet is and what it would pay if it hits.

History of off-track betting in Connecticut

In 1971, Connecticut lawmakers legalized a state lottery. At the same time, they also legalized pari-mutuel wagering.

The new law additionally created a new Commission on Special Revenue (later renamed the Division of Special Revenue) to oversee all of the new forms of gambling in the state.

The Connecticut Lottery sold its first tickets in 1972. Over the next few years, rules and regulations for horse and greyhound racing, jai alai, and off-track betting were created. Bettors could visit the new “teletracks,” as they were then called, to watch races on closed-circuit television and wager on them. Prior to that time, only Nevada legally permitted off-track betting, meaning Connecticut was at the forefront of OTB finding its way to other parts of the country.

In 1993, the Division of Special Revenue received authorization to sell the OTB system to Autotote Enterprises, Inc., which took over its operations. Nearly two decades later, in 2010, Autotote Enterprises was acquired by Sportech Venues, Inc. Sportech continues to function as the sole owner and operator of OTB facilities in the state. As described above, Sportech currently operates 12 different OTB parlors throughout the state, although at times has operated even more.

Meanwhile, out-of-state OTB operators began to accept advance deposit wagers from Connecticut bettors as well, including TVG (starting in 1999), TwinSpires (starting in 2007), and BetAmerica (starting in 2008). Churchill Downs owns TwinSpires, and in 2017 acquired BetAmerica. In 2021, Churchill Downs united both sites under the TwinSpires name.

Off-track betting has proven so popular in the state, OTBs have provided a kind of template for Connecticut Lottery-run sports betting facilities as described by the state’s new sports betting legislation.