Another Rough Month for U.S. Handle, Purses
by Tom LaMarra
Date Posted: 8/5/2009 10:14:30 AM
Last Updated: 8/6/2009 7:46:56 PM

Wagering on racing in the United States continued its negative trend in July.
Photo: Benoit

Wagering on racing in the United States continued its negative trend in July, with a 13.4% decline from the same month last year. Purses dropped 7.35%.

The July numbers, however, were an improvement over those in June, when year-to-year pari-mutuel handle fell 16.89%.

The Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators were released Aug. 5 by Equibase. The handle numbers include worldwide commingled betting on all U.S. races.

Year-to-date 2009 versus the same period in 2008, handle is down 10.9%, according to the statistics.

In July of this year, handle totaled $1,046,639,913 compared with $1,208,560,476 in July 2008. The number of racing days—individual programs at each track—dropped 1.36% from 660 last year to 651 this year.

July purses totaled $110,042,334, down from $118,776,196 last year. Purses were roughly 10.5% of handle in July, but the purse figure includes sizeable revenue from non-handle sources such as slot machines.

The amount of purse money generated by handle versus alternative gaming isn’t provided.

Year-to-date, $7,550,634,682 was wagered in the first six months of 2009, down from $8,473,960,715. Purses totaled $617,207,882, down 6.27% from $658,521,792 for the first six months of 2008.

The number of race days fell 1.92% from 3,533 last year to 3,465 this year.

Racing industry officials have largely blamed the economy for the decrease in handle at many tracks around the country.

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