Gambling sustains horse racing. Without it, horse racing would shrivel up and blow away. History tells us so. Think the Seabiscuit story, brought to the nation’s attention in the excellent book and movie by Lauren Hillenbrand.
Let’s take a look at what American Experience tells us about the time period,
By the time the Great Depression descended on the nation like a bitter cold front, horse racing in the United States was already in a deep freeze. It had gone cold during the first decade of the twentieth century, after a series of race-fixing scandals triggered a wave of legislation making betting illegal. The sport crumbled. At the turn of the century there had been 300 racetracks nationwide; by 1908, only 25 remained. The American bans proved a boon to the Mexican horse racing business, and Tijuana became a betting mecca.
In the 1930s impoverished state governments, in search of ways to increase revenues, returned to the potential honey pot of horse racing. In exchange for legalizing betting on the sport, one state after another exacted steep taxes on racing revenues. The deal was mutually beneficial to private investors and government tax collectors, and led to a 70 percent increase in the number of tracks across the country. At the racetrack, crowds turned up as large as any that had ever assembled to watch horse racing.
Horse racing, along with baseball, dominated the sports world. The horses’ power and beauty and the excitement of racing undoubtedly attracted many to the grandstands. Another draw, though, was the possibility of pay day that promised relief from the tight clamp of poverty for a week, a month, or, if a long shot finished first in the big one, even a lifetime. Source »
Kentucky Derby 2021
The 147th running of the Kentucky Derby was held this past Saturday, May 1. ABC Chicago gives an apt description of it. “ The bourbon is flowing again, flowery hats and humans are on the scene and 19 horses are ready to run the most chaotic race of their lives.” Jim McIngvale – also known as “Mattress Mack” – reportedly bet $2.4 million on Essential Quality. He lost. The BloodHorse reports the total handle for the day was in the neighborhood of $233 Million with $155.4 Million bet on the Derby itself, a 96% increase over 2020.
This was one grand day however, materially speaking of course. However, there is much, much more to be made — without having to traverse the nightmare that live horse racing increasingly presents.
Enter historical horse racing
Instant Racing, known generically as historical race wagering, is an electronic gambling system that allows players to bet on replays of horse races or dog races that have already been run. Some Instant Racing terminals resemble slot machines.
Instant Racing is a product of PariMax Holdings, a subsidiary of the Stronach Group. A competing historical racing product is offered by Exacta Systems.
Where did the idea come from? Historical race wagering was conceived by Eric Jackson, of Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, which led to a patented Instant Racing System in 1997 that merges horse racing with video games. By the way, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort was formerly Oaklawn Park Race Track.
In 2017 Churchill Downs Incorporated announced it was investing approximately $60 million to construct a state-of-the-art historical racing machine facility in Louisville. CDI continue to diversify in this direction.
A declining sport?
The routine cruelty, injury and killing of racehorses has made horse racing a messy business and an ongoing public relations nightmare. Some tracks are struggling, having to rely on money generated by on-track historical racing revenues to pay their expenses, including prize money. This is not a good sign.
Is live horse racing a declining sport? We think so.