Wagering Window

Wagering Window

Anne M. Eberhardt

Economic Indicators: Purses Up, Wagering Down

Wagering fell 8.5% and purses were up 5.3% during first three months of 2011.

Key economic indicators for North American racing in March and the first three months of 2011 reflected a continuation of the trend in which wagering is down but purses are up.

According to figures released April 4 by the Equibase Company, all-sources handle on North American racing totaled $899,304,167 in March, down 10% from the $998,748,721 total for the same month a year ago. Purses rose 6% during the same period, from $73,793,627 to $78,289,681, and the number of race days declined 4.2% from 404 to 387.

For the three-month period ending March 31, handle had fallen 8.5% to $2.5 billion, while purses had risen 5.3% to total $204.7 million. The number of race days was also down slightly, from 1,048 to 1,029.

By comparison, through March 2010, wagering on North American racing had declined 10.3% and purses were down 10%, so this year’s figures reflect small improvement in handle and a double-digit increase in purses.