Anne M. Eberhardt

U.S. Wagering Declined by Nearly 10% in 2009

Figures are for worldwide commingled betting on U.S. races.

Wagering on U.S. racing in 2009 declined by 9.9% to total $12.3 billion, compared with $13.7 billion the previous year, according to figures released Jan. 6 by Equibase Company. The numbers are for all worldwide wagering on U.S. races.

Along with the handle decline was a 2.3% decline in total U.S. purses, which fell from $1.2 billion in 2008 to just under $1.1 billion in 2009. There was a 2.6% decline in race days, from 6,093 to 5,934.

Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association said the figures show that the racing industry compares favorably to other industries.

"A decline of this magnitude for the year is nothing to celebrate, but it does compare favorably to that of many other industries in 2009, especially when combined with an overall decline in the number of race dates," Waldrop said in a statement.

"Also, the decrease in the rate of decline over the final two quarters may indicate that the worst is behind us. I believe that horseracing will reverse these trends in the years ahead, especially as we develop new ways to capitalize on our unique right to conduct legal, online wagering. "

During December, in which there were only two fewer race days than in December 2008, handle fell 8.7%, from $820.4 million to $748.7 million when compared with the same month a year ago. December purses fell 2.3% from $60.1 million to $58.7 million.

Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators
For December 2009
December 2009 vs. December 2008
Indicator December 2009 December 2008 %Change
Wagering on U.S. Races* $748,685,618 $820,358,357
U.S. Purses $58,742,586 $60,123,263
U.S. Race Days
Annual 2009 vs. Annual 2008
Indicator Annual 2009 Annual 2008 %Change
Wagering on U.S. Races
U.S. Purses
U.S. Race Days
*Includes worldwide commingled wagering on U.S. races.