New York, California Still Tops in Handle

Total pari-mutuel handle in the United States crept up 0.7% to $18.16 billion in 1999, according to the latest statistical information released by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. Handle on horse races was up 1.7% from 1998, while Greyhound and jai alai handle fell 4.8% and 11.6%, respectively.

In 1999, simulcasting accounted for 82% of total handle on horse racing. For dog racing and jai alai, the figures were 52% and 41%, respectively. RCI reported that live horse racing handle dropped 6.1% from 1998 to 1999.

The Jockey Club, in its 2000 Fact Book, reports Thoroughbred handle of $13.7 billion for 1999. RCI's figure is $10.2 billion, though that would be somewhat higher if "mixed" handle is included.

In other statistics in the RCI annual summary:

-- New York led the way in total handle on horse racing at $2.74 billion, followed by California ($2.41 billion), New Jersey ($1.22 billion), Pennsylvania ($1.13 billion), and Illinois ($1.1 billion). Traditionally, those states have been at the top of the list.

-- California topped the list for total handle on live horse races with $607 million, followed by New York ($493 million), New Jersey ($272 million), Florida ($248 million), and Kentucky ($186 million).

-- The top states in terms of percentage of live horse racing handle to total horse racing handle were Arkansas (46%), West Virginia (40%), Kentucky (30%), Washington (29%), and Florida (28%).

-- The state with the largest gain in horse racing handle from 1998 to 1999 was North Dakota, where it jumped from $9 million to $88 million. In 1999, all but $49,000 of that amount was wagered on out-of-state races.

-- Standardbred handle was highest in New York ($504 million), New Jersey ($361 million), Illinois ($329 million), Ohio ($294 million), and Pennsylvania ($249 million).

-- Florida easily was the leader in Greyhound handle with $639 million. Next in line was Alabama with $224 million, followed by Massachusetts ($197 million), Texas ($145 million), and Arizona ($130 million).