RCI Report: As Expected, Simulcasting is King

Simulcasting accounted for 80% of total pari-mutuel handle in 1998, according to the latest annual statistical summary released by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. Total handle cleared $18 billion, up about 1.5% from 1997.

The report tracks wagering on horse and greyhound racing, and jai alai. It notes that wagering on some simulcasts at Indian casinos is unreported, though the jurisdictions that do report it may account for most of the handle.

The lines have blurred a bit as "mixed" racing, for the purposes of intertrack wagering, now includes Thoroughbred and Standardbred handle in the RCI report.

In other statistics in the report:

o The leaders in total handle on horse racing were New York ($2.66 billion), California ($2.32 billion), New Jersey ($1.22 billion), Pennsylvania ($1.1 billion), and Illinois ($1.08 billion).

o The top five states in terms of handle on live races -- Thoroughbred and harness -- were California ($638 million), New York ($505 million), New Jersey ($308 million), Florida ($258 million), and Kentucky ($205 million).

o New York led the way in the category of off-track and telephone account handle with $1.85 billion, followed by California ($1.68 billion), Pennsylvania ($965 million), Nevada ($625 million), and Illinois ($566 million). New York and Pennsylvania are leaders in terms of telephone account wagering.

o Arkansas led the way in terms of largest percentage of handle on live horse racing (49%). West Virginia was second at 36%, followed by Florida and Kentucky at 32%, and Montana at 31%.

o On the other end of the spectrum, the states with the lowest percentage of total handle on live horse races were Nevada (less than 1%), South Dakota (3%), Kansas (4%),Virginia (5%), and Indiana (7%). Of those states, only Virginia (71 days) and Indiana (153 days) offered extensive programs of live racing.

o New Jersey, home of The Meadowlands, led the way with $184 million wagered on live harness racing. Ohio was second at $93 million, followed by New York ($91 million), Michigan ($64 million), and Illinois ($43 million).

o In Canada, total handle just topped $1.7 billion. Thoroughbred racing accounted for $905 million, and harness racing for $795 million.

o Total handle on greyhound racing in the United States fell slightly to $2.23 billion from $2.29 billion. Jai alai handle fell from $251 million in 1997 to $229 million in 1998.

o Revenue to government came in at $549 million in 1998, down from $565 million the previous year. It has fallen every year since 1991, according to the report.