KY Equine Survey Does Not Include Wagering

Racing had an estimated $1.28 billion economic impact in 2012.

When a major economic study of the Kentucky equine industry was released Sept. 6, conspicuously absent from the wide-ranging data reported by the researchers was pari-mutuel handle.

Although there were several reasons for the omission of handle from the 2012 Kentucky Equine Survey, a lack of cooperation from racetracks was cited by the project director as the biggest factor in not including wagering totals.

"We worked hard to try to get that information but were not very successful," said Jill Stowe, University of Kentucky Ag Equine Programs director and the project lead. "We didn't want to be guessing at that sort of information."

Stowe said that another reason to not use wagering statistics included the fact that, as 80% of wagers is returned to bettors, there is not a foregone conclusion that the money remained in the state.

"When you think about dollars spent on racing, you are talking about purses, and many times the purses leave the state," Stowe said. "Also about 80% of the wager goes back to bettors, and if they are not in the state then that money doesn't stay in the state.

"We had access to some old data from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission but that is not the same as using the data from 2012 we were after.

Stowe added, "We got little participation (from racetracks)."

The 2012 Kentucky Equine Survey, which found the state's signature industry has an estimated total economic impact of about $3 billion, is based on a comprehensive survey of all breeds of horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules.

Even without the pari-mutuel handle being factored in, the racing sector contributed an estimated $1.28 billion to the equine economy, followed b breeding, with $710 million.

One legislative leader on hand for the release of the survey results said he is "surprised and disappointed" that the state's racetracks offered little or no cooperation to the survey team.

"If you come to the legislature and want (economic) relief, you might want to participate in Kentucky's flagship university's study on the health of the horse industry in Kentucky," said State Sen. Damon Thayer, majority floor leader in the legislative body.