Preakness Day Handle Up 75%

Edited press release handled more than $3.5 million on Preakness day, May 21, up 75% from the $2 million wagered on the same day in 2003, the last year the online wagering service offered the race.

Of the total wagered by customers this year, $1.8 million was bet on races from Pimlico Race Course, including $1 million on the Preakness. Both the 2005 track and race totals were more than double the amount handled in 2003. chief executive officer Charles Champion said the increase in Preakness day handle is further evidence of the substantial growth in off-track wagering, particularly through the Internet.

"Simulcasting--in all its forms--is a critical factor in the future viability of the horse racing industry," Champion said in a release. "Without it, more than 80% of horse racing revenue in the country would move to illegal bookmakers or evaporate along with many of the industry's 470,000 jobs in the United States.

"The industry's record-setting Preakness race day results affirm our belief that horse racing is undergoing a renaissance and developing a broad-based appeal among U.S. adults, especially those in the 21-40 year old segment. Congress acknowledged the special importance of horse racing in this country when it passed the Interstate Horse Racing Act to permit off-track wagering, thereby ensuring the lifeblood of the sport."

Champion said 96% of the Pimlico handle came from customers who live 25 miles or more away from the Maryland track.

New customer sign-ups rose 162% on the day of the Preakness compared with 2003, he said. Customers deposited more than $1.2 million into their accounts May 21, more than twice the amount deposited on the same race day in 2003.