HomeIllinois Horse Race BettingHorse Race Tracks in Illinois

Horse race tracks in Illinois

For nearly 200 years horse race tracks in Illinois have been operating in the Chicagoland area, with the first popping up as early as the 1830s. Peaking in the 1930s with as many as six tracks, Illinois has long embraced horse racing and continues to today.

| Last Updated:
Table of contents

Let’s dive into the horse race tracks in Illinois operating today, and how you can get in on the action from home or at the track.

All horse race tracks in Illinois

Residents and visitors to Illinois have a couple of options for getting down on the horse racing action in the state. There are 2 horse race tracks in Illinois still operational: Fairmount Park & Hawthorne Race Course.

Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park opened its doors nearly 100 years ago in 1925 and has since evolved to a full-scale race track, off-track betting, and sportsbook. A few years ago, FanDuel took over as the betting operator and re-branded as the FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Track. It’s not just the actual Fairmount Park Racetrack races betting enthusiasts can wager on, as they also offer simulcast races across the country for wagering.

All summer long and into September, horse racing bettors can wager on races that run every 19 minutes Thursday through Saturday starting at 7:30 p.m. Additionally, horses also run on Tuesdays beginning at 1 p.m. Featuring a bar and food stands, Fairmount Park also offers live music and special events for its patrons to enjoy in between making wagers. With The Black Stallion Room being the main source of entertainment, Fairmount Park offers its customers a great time in addition to their robust menu of gambling.

For those customers looking for more than cheap beer and food, the Lime-A-Rita Bar offers a variety of wines and cocktails. Needless to say, there is something for everyone at the Fairmount Park Racetrack and Sportsbook.

  • Address: 9301 Collinsville Rd, Collinsville, IL 62234
  • Phone: (618) 345-4300

Hawthorne Race Course

Opened in 1891, Hawthorne Race Course is the oldest horse racing track in Illinois history still operating, as well as the oldest continually run family-owned racetrack in the United States. Considered one of the top thoroughbred racetracks in the country, Hawthorne Race Course offers the full spectrum of horse racing nearly year-round.

Featuring quarter horse, thoroughbred, and harness racing, the Hawthorn Race Course is a one-mile length horse track featuring racing every day from 6 a.m. to midnight. With races happening at the track from February to April and October to December, Hawthorne Race Course also offers simulcasts of races throughout the country.

Already one of the top horse racing tracks in Illinois, Hawthorne Race Course recently partnered with PointsBet Sportsbook to open a retail sports betting location at Club Hawthorne. Gamblers can now do everything from bet on live horse races to NFL, NHL, NBA, games, and much more via sports betting attendants or self-serving kiosks. Additionally, at their bar restaurant Crazy Pour, patrons can choose from more than 150 whiskeys, craft beers, and a full menu of food.

  • Address: 3501 S Laramie Ave, Cicero, IL 60804
  • Phone: (708) 780-3700

What happened to Arlington Park race track?

The Arlington Park race track in Illinois is permanently closed and demolition began in late May 2023. Located in the Arlington Heights suburb of Chicago, originally called Arlington International Racecourse when it was opened in October 1927. In 1981, it was the location of the first thoroughbred race with a $1 million dollar purse at the International Festival of Racing which included the Beverly D. Stakes, Secretariat Stakes, and Arlington Million Stakes.

Featuring a one-mile track and one-eighth dirt oval track, Arlington Park race track also featured a one-mile turf track. At its peak, the race track could stable over 2,000 horses, with a seating capacity of 35,000 in addition to 12,00 clubhouse seats. As a pioneer of North American horse racing, Arlington Park was the first track in the country to have a public-address system to broadcast races to horse racing fans.

In 2000, Churchill Downs Inc. purchased Arlington Park Race Track, operating it for 21 years before holding its final race in September 2021. Shortly after, it was announced the Chicago Bears would purchase the property for $197 million, with future potential plans to build a new NFL stadium.

In May 2023, demolition officially began, completed in September 2023 as future plans for the site are still being considered.

Betting at horse race tracks in Illinois

At both Fairmount Park and Hawthorne Race Track, you can bet on horses in person right at the track. Both horse racing tracks in Illinois offer customers a great experience, from horse racing betting to sportsbook options. If it is your first time betting at horse race tracks in Illinois, here is what to expect in the process.

1. Head to the racebook

Usually located right next to the horse racing track, you will see the ticket counter where horse race track staff are taking wagers. Typically, it will be next to a big electronic board with the races posted and the odds next to each horse. For a small fee, you can purchase a booklet from the staff at the counter which will show the horses' racing history.

2. Pick your race

Located on the televisions next to the ticket counter, you’ll see the upcoming races and their post times. The post time indicates what time each of the races will start.

3. Pick your horse

For each race posted, there will be odds listed next to each horse. As an example, if you see a “2” next to a horse, that indicates that the horse is 2 to 1 (i.e. bet $1 win $2) to win the race. A 7/2 next to a horse, means that the race is 3.5 to win the race.

4. Place your bet

Now that you have your race and horse picked out, it’s time to decide which kind of bet you are going to place. Here are a few of the options available:

  • Win: As the name would suggest, this is simply betting on the horse to win the race at the given odds next to their name.
  • Place: A place bet is a wager on your horse to come in either first or second place. The odds and payouts will be correlated based on the win odds of the horse.
  • Show: A show bet is a wager on your horse to finish in first through third, with the odds also corresponding to the win odds.
  • Exacta: An exacta bet is a type of exotic wager in which you must predict the horses who finish in first and second place, in that exact order. As you would expect based on the difficulty, the Exacta pays out much higher than the Win, Place, or Show bets.
  • Exacta Box: When you box your exacta, you’re still predicting the first and second-place horse, except it doesn’t matter which order they come in.

Can I bet off-track in Illinois?

Yes, you can bet off-track in Illinois. Off-track betting (OTB) is legal in Illinois, and there are several OTB locations in Illinois where you can place wagers on horse races. These facilities offer a way for individuals to bet on horse races without having to be present at the racetrack.

Can I bet on sports at horse racing tracks in Illinois?

Yes, you can bet on sports at horse race tracks in Illinois. Both Fairmount Park and Hawthorne Race Course have their own retail sportsbooks in partnership with online sports betting sites in Illinois.

PointsBet Sportsbook at Hawthorne Race Course

PointsBet partnered with Hawthorne Race Course, significantly impacting the betting industry in Illinois. Their retail sportsbook, launched in September 2020, offers a closely integrated experience with the PointsBet application.

The facility features 60 HD TVs and 20 betting booths, making it a prime destination for sports betting enthusiasts.

FanDuel Sportsbook at Fairmount Park

FanDuel's sportsbook at Fairmount Park provides a state-of-the-art betting environment with a wide array of options for major sporting events globally.

The sportsbook is known for its user-friendly interface, quick processing times, and covers a comprehensive range of sports, including NFL, NBA, soccer, tennis, and more.


How old should I be to visit horse racing tracks in Illinois?

While all ages can visit horse racing tracks in Illinois, you must be 18 years or older to bet on horse races in the state.

Which was the first race track to open in Illinois?

Washington Park Race Track was the first horse race track to open in Illinois in 1884, shutting down for good in 1977.

Can you bet online on races held at Illinois race tracks?

Yes, you can bet on online races held at Illinois horse race tracks at one of the many Illinois online horse racing betting sites . Just like retail horse racing in the state, you only need to be 18 years of age or older to bet online on horse races.