Horse racing has taken quite a bashing in the media lately, so let’s set the record straight; contrary to what you might have heard elsewhere, horse racing is alive and well in America!
To substantiate this claim, let’s do a Brief History of Time (with apologies to Stephen Hawkings). Up until the 1950’s horse racing was the most popular sport in America. Then race track owners made one of the most significant blunders in sports and business history. Fearing that it would cut down on track attendance, they rejected television’s offer to broadcast horse racing nationally. Rebuffed by horse racing, the fledgling television industry turned to its second choice, baseball. Today horse racing is still the second largest spectator sport following, yep you guessed it, baseball.
Fast forward a few decades and let’s look at all the positive things that have happened for horse racing. In the late eighties simulcasting came into existence. This allowed a host track to broadcast races to other tracks and the guest tracks to display and accept wagering on those races in addition to their own. Track owners were quick to jump on the simulcast bandwagon since they viewed it as a means to fill time between races. They failed to see what impact it would have on their live attendance and handle and were slow to capitalize on the additional revenues to be generated from off track wagering. In 1993 simulcast wagering accounted for 40% of all wagering conducted at racetracks in North America. It has since grown to a staggering 88% of all wagering. 슈어맨
During this same time a new technology was growing into worldwide acceptance, the internet. This opened American racing up to a global market. With streaming video simulcasts and both onshore and offshore wagering outlets, the world can now watch and wager on North American races. All legislation aimed at eliminating internet gambling has specifically excluded horse racing, making it the primary legal source for wagering within the U.S. and in most countries throughout the world.
In an ironic twist, the sport that once rejected television now has television channels such as TVG and HRTV devoted to 24 hour coverage of nothing but horse racing. One can set in the comfort of one’s own home and watch and wager on races from across the nation.
By 2001 advance deposit wagering, ADW, became legal in the majority of the U.S. allowing a person to deposit funds and later wager via phone, internet or mobile devices such as cell phones and pda’s, making it that much easier to wager on horse racing.
Handicapping contests have increasingly grown in popularity with the ninth annual National Handicapping Contest and the third annual Horseplayer World Series having just concluded in January, here in Vegas, each with $1 million dollars in prize money. There are numerous contests hosted by various organizations including race tracks, casinos and racing publications, so there are literally hundreds of contests over the course of the year that one may enter to test their skills against other players for bragging rights and prize money.
The most recent pro-racing occurrence is the advent of “racinos”, racetracks that offer alternative forms of gaming. Harrah’s, one of the largest casino operators, purchased Louisiana Downs a few years ago and has since built a casino at the track where one can watch and wager on races while playing slots. Several other tracks have now created their own racinos and most of the others are pushing for local legislation to allow them to follow suit. The tracks are using this new source of revenue to improve their facilities and to increase their racing purses. In fact North American gross purses reached record levels in 2007 with tracks like Philadelphia Park, with their first full year of slot machine gaming, posting a 78% increase in purse money over 2006.