US horse betting revenues rose in December, with the sport seeing its first significant increase within the country for three years.
According to racetrack database providers, Equibase, $800 million was wagered in the final month of 2011 – 17.8% more than the $679 million bet in December the year previous. The last time a year-over-year increase like that was seen was February ’08, Equibase reported.
So why the sudden uplift in betting on the racing of those lovely solid-hoofed herbivorous quadrupeds? In a report by Kentucky.com, Executive director for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Alex Waldrop, said one major factor was that 2011 saw 34 more days of racing than the year before, due to bad weather forcing racetracks to close in 2010. According to Waldrop, another factor was that New York City Off-Track Betting closed 7 December in 2010, which contributed to an extra-low month that year.
Waltrop added that last year some tracks have shown a general improvement, including Turfway Park in Northern Kentucky, Santa Anita in California and Gulfstream in Florida. “One month is not a trend, but it would appear that the economy is beginning to turn in our favour,” he said.
Another reason could be down to the fact purses were higher in December last year also. The prize money for racing hit almost $70 million, up 23.58% from the same month the year before. Waldrop said Florida switched December racing from Calder to Gulfstream, which paid higher purses.
In the report Waldrop concludes on a positive note, stating that next year’s wagering figures in horse racing may show further improvement because New York tracks are picking up since their unprofitable betting days when low prices were paid for their signals.