And it is not just harness racing. From the Bloodhorse, "Wagering Plummets":
Wagering has dropped 11% on North American Thoroughbred racing since the end of the Triple Crown series.
“If the handle is going down, that is not a good sign,” he said. “There is less interest. What underlies that, though, is that it may not be as bad as what it looks for a particular racetrack, or that it could be way worse for another racetrack.”
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, in conjunction with Equibase, recently reported a 4.15% decline in North American handle during the second quarter of the year, which ended June 30. NTRA president and chief executive officer Alex Waldrop, who didn’t return a call seeking comment for this article, termed the current industry scene “challenging.”
"Our industry is in the midst of a challenging period with discretionary entertainment dollars tighter than they have been for several years,” he said in a statement.
One ADW executive, who asked to remain anonymous, said he saw an immediate drop in wagering following the end of the Triple Crown series.
“It was instantaneous and dramatic,” he said, estimating his company’s decline at 15% since July 8. “One day I looked at our numbers and it was like, ‘Where did all of our players go?’ ”
As most know from the blog and other places, there is an impasse in the advance deposit wagering system. Horseman groups and tracks are fighting over the pie. Signals have been cut off, several ADW companies delivering the product have not been able to offer signals, pricing are moving up. All bad news for the player as he does what he has been doing for a decade - playing other gambling games.
“There is less concern over booked money as its going back in the pool,” he said. “If you are just booking, you have limits on what you can handle, because you want to limit what you can lose. And the big bettors find that is not a viable outlet, particularly if they are a very good bettor.”
“I think sports betting and poker through bookmakers has been a bigger problem -- in that we have lost some players now doing that instead of horse racing, or they have cut back on horse racing betting to do that,” he said.
Scherf said data he has seen suggests that handle wagered at night-time venues is suffering the most.
“There seems to be decreases there that are significant,” he said. “You would think it’s alternative gaming. And that can be everything from sports betting to online poker, to people just playing more slots at night when they go to a casino. It’s probably a variety of combination of those factors.”
In high-profile examples of some steep betting declines, betting at the recently-concluded Churchill Downs meet was down 11.5%, and opening-day handle at Del Mar was off 9% -- including a 14% drop in on-track wagering despite a record crowd of more than 43,000 on hand.
Well it appears the player is speaking the best they know how: With their wagering dollars (and they have been for some time).
The business needs fixing. Every horseman group, every track, every executive, every blogger will tell you that. The question I guess becomes, who will finally step up to the plate and fix this mess?