Added-Gaming Funds More Than Third of Purses
Photo: Coglianese Photos

According to a Thoroughbred Racing Associations study, money from added-gaming sources now accounts for more than one-third of the purse money awarded in U.S. Thoroughbred racing.

That telling statistic was revealed in research conducted by Jane Murray of the TRA at the second day of the International Simulcast Conference Sept. 30 in Delray Beach, Fla. The study showed that 35% of the $1.127 billion paid in 2013 purses was generated by added-gaming sources. Those sources would include slot machines, video lottery terminals, Instant Racing, poker, card rooms, and subsidies paid by off-track casinos.

Murray conducted a similar study in 2010 that showed 29% of purses were funded by added-gaming. Since then, New York has begun supplementing purses with money from casino-type wagering. Murray said a total of 16 states in 2013 added to purse money from sources besides pari-mutuel wagering. She said with more states expected to pick up added-gaming revenues for purses, she could see the percentages continue to increase.

Thoroughbred Racing Associations executive vice president Chris Scherf said the growing reliance on added money is a concern because many times it is controlled by state governments, which may claim portions of it from racing when budgets are tight. 

Murray also noted that the revenue generated by added gaming in some states has been reduced because of added competition within the region. She presented a table of Ohio, the Mid-Atlantic states, and the Northeast states and noted that there are about 50 casinos currently operating in those states.

The money from added-gaming dedicated to purses has helped pick up the slack as pari-mutuel wagering on U.S. races was down 4.7% in 2013, compared with 2010. As the wagering form dedicated to the sport, Scherf said the industry has to make a commitment to pari-mutuel wagering.

"I think we need a great effort to move the pari-mutuel business forward," Scherf said. "That said, we face great challenges in trying to do that at a time when the foal crop is going down and we're facing short fields."

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