Handle on Live Pennsylvania Races Up 12%

Purses paid at six racetracks in Pennsylvania in 2012 increased 1% while wagering on the live product was up 12% from the previous year, according to the latest benchmark report prepared by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

The PGCB compiles the numbers each year because the tracks have slot machines, which generated about $272 million for the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund last year. The state has three Thoroughbred and three Standardbred facilities.

Total pari-mutuel handle on live racing at Pennsylvania tracks was $776.94 million last year, up 12% from $690.32 million in 2011, according to the report. Much of the increase came from growth in wagering on Pennsylvania races out of state.

Export handle totaled $679.68 million in 2012, up $85 million, or 14.4%, from 2011. On-track handle was up 6.29% from $38.29 million to $40.70 million, while wagering at off-track betting parlors totaled $14.5 million, down 3.4% from $15.01 million.

Purses earned from slots revenue totaled $175.46 million in 2012, the PGCB reported, while purses earned from handle came in at $33.57 million. That means roughly 16.1% of purses earned is derived from wagering, with 83.9% generated by gaming.

From November 2006 to December 2012, the RHDF received $1.37 billion from slots. Of that amount, $962.11 million went to purses; $94.53 million to the Thoroughbred breeding fund; $97.80 million to the Standardbred breeding fund and sires stakes program; and $57.26 to health and pension benefits for horsemen.

During that period, $161.60 million was shifted from the RHDF to the state general fund to pay for other programs, according to the report.

"Revenue from legalized slot machine gaming in Pennsylvania is helping to fulfill the legislative objectives by enhancing horse racing and breeding programs, preserving thousands of jobs, and providing a positive impact on the state's agricultural economy," PGCB chairman William Ryan Jr. said in a release. "This report underlines specific areas where the impact is tangible, and shows that the horse racing industry continues to benefit from the revenue that casinos generate here in Pennsylvania."

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