Iowa has a rich history of horse racing that began in the late 19th century. In the Midwest, most of the racing was standardbred harness racing.
Iowa offers legal off-track betting (OTB) and advance-deposit wagering (ADW) inside many of the state’s licensed casinos and lone greyhound racetrack, Iowa Greyhound Park at Q Casino.
You can also bet on horse racing across the US with the top simulcast and online horse race betting operator, TVG. Plus, many online and mobile sportsbooks in Iowa will take your bets on horse races as well.
Below is an overview of horse racing and betting in Iowa. We include all you need to know to bet on the ponies online and in person — including at Prairie Meadows Casino & Racetrack.
You can bet on horse races from around the world right here in Iowa, with TVG, the simulcast and online horse race betting operator.
You simply need to sign up for a TVG account and deposit funds. You can then browse through the race menu on TVG, find a race to bet on and you’re golden.
Races are listed by track and the nearest post time. Just click on a horse you like in any race and you can choose how you want to bet and how much. Or you can add more horses to your bet, turning it into an exotic wager.
Here’s a look at the basic bets and exotics wagers available at TVG:
Exacta, trifecta and superfecta bets can all be “boxed.” This bet type is akin to placing additional wagers on various combinations of finishing order for the same number of horses. If your bet wins, you get paid at the same odds, but boxing is more costly.
You can also “wheel” your exacta, trifecta and superfecta bets. This bet involves “keying” or fixing the finishing position of certain horses. You can put your wager together in multiple combinations, including adding different horses and changing their finishing positions.
Morning odds will be set for every horse running by the track hosting the race.
Tracks will consider everything from the horse’s previous record to the jockey and trainer’s reputation and how likely the public is to bet on the horse. Once those morning odds are out, the rest is up to the public. The horse betting odds will fluctuate ahead of the race and settle at post time.
Unlike traditional sports betting, you don’t lock in the odds on a horse when you place a bet. Instead, winning bets are paid out at post-time odds, which are determined by the amount bet on each horse relative to how much is bet on the others in the race.
If the public is betting heavily on one horse, that will significantly lower the odds on that horse. Low-to-no betting drives the odds upward.
Pari-mutuel betting is a pooled betting system. It involves pooling all bets of a certain type together, removing a “vig” for the house, and paying out the rest to all winning bets by a share price or odds. The share price or odds are determined by the amount bet on each outcome of an event relative to how much is bet on the other possible outcomes in the event.
For example, all the money bet on the horse to win the Kentucky Derby goes into the same pool. The house takes its share and the rest is paid to anyone who bet on the Derby winner. The amount is determined by the price on the wager and on how much was bet on that horse compared to the others.
At TVG, you can get bonus funds to bet on any race you like when you sign up for an account and make a deposit.
During the registration process, there will be a space where you can enter a promo or bonus code. Enter our exclusive LSRTVG promo code when you register with TVG and you’ll get a 50% deposit bonus that’s worth up to $300. That means if you deposit $50, you’ll get a $25 bonus free. If you deposit up to $500, you could get up to $300 free. You must use the bonus cash for betting, but anything you win is yours.
Once you’re registered, you’ll also be eligible to take part in other free contests, money-back specials, betting insurance and win-bonus promos at TVG.
Anyone 18 years or older can open a TVG account and bet on local and simulcast races online. Opening a TVG account requires only a minimal amount of personal information, including your:
Once you have an account, you can deposit money to bet with using any one of the available deposit options, including:
When you bet on a horse race at the window or a self-service betting kiosk at a track or OTB, you get a ticket. If your bet wins, you can take that ticket to the window or kiosk and cash it.
However, it works a little differently online. TVG involves account wagering and that means there are no tickets. Your current bets will be listed in your account. If any of your bets win, the money will automatically be deposited into your account. That happens almost immediately after a race result is declared final. You can turn any money in your account into cash by making a withdrawal.
Most of the time, you can make withdrawals using the same method you used to make a deposit. If that’s not available, TVG will set you up with another method or send you a check in the mail.
There are three types of horse races you can bet on in the US: Thoroughbred, standardbred (harness) and quarter horse.
Here a look at the major events in the horse racing world:
You can watch live streams or horse races from tracks around the US and beyond with the TVG app. Video streaming is free when you have a wagering account with TVG. Click the “Live Streaming” tab to tune in; feeds are available for most US and some international tracks. TVG also offers analysis, live odds, handicapping picks and tips.
If you’re new to betting on the ponies, try these five tips for beginners:
Iowa has just one horse racing venue. Prairie Meadows has live and simulcast racing with pari-mutuel wagering and a casino.
The track opened in Altoona in 1989 and lost money until off-track betting, slots and the full-service casino launched. Polk County owns the facility and profits benefit community schemes in the Des Moines area. The racetrack has a 1-mile dirt track with a chute for quarter horses. Live racing is held from April to October.
The casino has more than 1,900 slots and table games, including roulette, blackjack, and poker. Close to 3 million people visit annually.
Iowa also has a greyhound racing facility in Dubuque with simulcast horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering:
Several Iowa casinos are also OTB locations with simulcast horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering, including: