Woodbine Entertainment Group announced Dec. 20 that handle on the Woodbine 2012 live Thoroughbred meet, which concluded Dec. 16, showed impressive growth over the 2011 season.
The 156-day meet saw all-sources wagering total $453,865,564, up 7.2% over the $423,209,365 wagered on the 165 dates offered in 2011. The numbers are even more impressive on a per card basis. Last year, an average of $2,564,905 was bet per card. In 2012, an average of $2,909,394 was recorded, a 13.4% hike.
It is the fourth consecutive year of handle increases on the Thoroughbred season. Wagering increased 7.5% in 2011 over 2010, and improved 8.9% in 2010 over 2009. It also increased 7% in 2009 over 2008. All-sources wagering on Woodbine's Thoroughbred racing is up more than 34% since 2008, a time period when many tracks saw wagering declines.
Wagering in Woodbine's home market held relatively steady, slipping 1.6% per card. The gains primarily came from international exports, including another significant market share increase from the U.S. outlets.
"We're seeing legitimate interest in our racing programs in Toronto, across the country, and internationally," said Woodbine President Nick Eaves in a statement. "We're proud of the quality of our racing product and the positive momentum that we are experiencing with it. We are very thankful for the support and loyalty from our horse people and our increasing fan base, particularly in these challenging times."
Woodbine notes that customer support for racing in Toronto couldn't come at a more important time. In February, the Ontario government announced the abrupt cancellation of the Slots-at-Racetracks Program, which has played an important role in the recent success of Woodbine's racing product and the economic impacts it has generated.
"While we are pleased with the results of our 2012 Thoroughbred racing season, we are extremely concerned about the lack of certainty which exists for 2013," said Eaves. "The continued success of Woodbine's live racing program and the significant employment and economic impacts which come with it are dependent on a new partnership between the industry and the Province of Ontario.
"We remain optimistic that such a new arrangement can be achieved. We continue to work with the government toward this end and hope to be able to provide the necessary certainty soon for all stakeholders in the province."