Chelmsford has its sights on offering at least £100,000 in prize-money per meeting after it was granted planning permission for a new turf track and grandstand.
A casino is also to be included in the scheme after Chelmsford City Council gave its support.
The development will also include major new equine facilities, with a new turf course being built on the inside of the existing all-weather surface.
Officials are hoping that the move to add a turf track will make Chelmsford the first floodlit turf track in Europe.
In addition to the casino, the new facilities will include luxury accommodation, a conference centre, casino, sports betting hall and a fitness centre.
Chelmsford chairman Joe Scanlon said: "This is fantastic news.
"Over the course of the last few years, the leading casinos across the world have been changing into multi-purpose complexes offering a full range of leisure facilities to complement their gambling options.
"Here at Chelmsford City Racecourse, we will be the first to offer a fully integrated racecourse 'resort' or leisure destination with entertainment.
"In a very short time, we expect to become the leading leisure offer in this region, providing high-class entertainment and facilities to meet all tastes."
Managing director Phil Siers added: "A leading development like this can only lead to bigger and better support for our racetrack.
"We look forward to the day we are offering a minimum prize fund of £100,000 per meeting and regular turf and all-weather racing for our horsemen, trainers, and owners alike, who have supported us through the transitioning of Chelmsford City to a leading race track.