United States pari-mutuel handle in 2012 was 13.4% greater than it was in 1993, when compared in nominal dollars. However, in real dollars (inflation-adjusted with 1993 as the base year), pari-mutuel handle declined by 27.6% in the 20-year period between 1993 and 2012.

Nominal pari-mutuel handle reached its apex in 2003 and fell 28.3% by the close of 2012. What’s of more concern, in real dollars, handle was at its zenith in 2002 and plumeted 42.9% by the end of 2012.

Pari-mutuel figures (in billions of dollars) for 1993-2012 are shown below. What these nominal dollars were actually worth when recast in 1993 dollars are depicted in the parentheses.

2012 10,882 (6,953)

2011 10,770 (7,026)

2010 11,419 (7,666)

2009 12,315 (8,400)

2008 13,662 (9,281)

2007 14,725 (10,383)

2006 14,785 (10,718)

2005 14,561 (10,819)

2004 15,099 (11,600)

2003 15,180 (12,047)

2002 15,062 (12,181)

2001 14,599 (12,090)

2000 14,321 (12,049)

1999 13,724 (11,940)

1998 13,115 (11,718)

1997 12,542 (12,293)

1996 11,627 (10,734)

1995 10,429 (9,917)

1994 9,897 (9,646)

1993 9,600 (9,600)

This trend is ominous when viewed in nominal dollars and starkly worse when the nominal dollars are adjusted to 1993 dollars. (The negative direction in the size of the U. S. foal crop is beginning to reflect the downsizing of the entire domestic industry.) In the months ahead, Horse Racing Business will occasionally be addressing the main cause, which is a noncompetitive takeout rate that destroys demand among large-scale bettors. The key question is whether the traditional pari-mutuel business model can yield a profit at takeout rates in line with sports betting in particular.

Copyright © 2013 Horse Racing Business


  1. If you factor in the population increase of 21% since 1993, the numbers are even worse. Also, if you consider that in 1993 you pretty much had to go to a track to bet, and now in most states you get back anytime from just about anywhere as well . Even the poker ban didn’t seem to help handle. Bottom line, if horse racing can’t advertise that the game is beatable long term in an honest manner, handle will continue to be dismal. The track takeout is too high denialists and those with their head in the sand when it comes to takeout wield too much power.

  2. Bill – Think you are right on about the take rate issue vis-a-vis the large scale bettors, for whom price is the major factor. I did a 3-part series on takeout on my site last year. Not sure if you were one of the two hundred that read it, but would be happy to discuss thru e-mail or otherwise some of its content.

    Mike Dorr

  3. robert carniol says

    and in new york the albany mafia led by cuomo is now going to chop 5% off all NY state bettors betting with out of state ADW’s. Good luck to overall handle in 2014 and forward. bettors playing with a discount averaging 8% will now have to hand about 63% of there total discount back to the albany mafia. Good bye racing as another player exits the playing field, and i am sure i am one of many to come in NY.