U.S. pari-mutuel handle falls again in May, this time by nearly 8%
Wagering on U.S. continued its downward spiral in May, with a decline of 7.80% from May 2010. Unlike several previous months, however, purses also declined though at a slower pace. Both declines in handle and total U.S. purses were exceeded by the drop in the number of race days, so the average bet per race day and average daily purses will show slight increases in May.
According to Equibase, a total of $1,163,454,383 was wagered in May, a decline of 7.80% from the same month in 2010 when $1,261,814,872 was bet. Purses dropped by 4.35% in May, from $100,348,921 to $95,983,896.
The number of racing days declined by 9.59% from May 2010 to May 2011, from 563 to 509.
Year to date, handle has fallen just over $400 million, from $5,049,378,245 in 2010 to $4,639,320,277 this year, a decline of 8.12%. Purses, fueled by slots subsidies and increases in California from higher takeout on certain wagers, have crawled upward by 2.33%, from $376,779,303 in 2010 to $385,543,651.
Live racing days in 2011 have decline 5.19%, from 2,044 in 2010 to 1,938.
Barring an unexpected turnaround, by year's end U.S. handle on Thoroughbred racing will have fallen for the sixth consecutive year and will be at its lowest level since the mid-1990s. There appears to be no concerted or coordinated effort by industry leaders to address the issue.