Equibase reports that May handle was off by 8% and US handles are off about $400 million in 2011 overall.
Fortunately, there is some silver lining. If you remove the numbers from California, where the CHRB and TOC make policy in the state, handle losses are not nearly as bad. This season alone, over $185 million in handle has been lost in the Golden State. California raised takeout on January 1st this year by about 9% on exactas and doubles and by about 14% on all other exotics.
If we add in the lack of churn on simulcast action from California as the result of the takeout increase, handle is probably affected by well over $200 million dollars in the state alone. In effect, California is likely responsible for over half of all the US handle losses.
In Kentucky, where entries have been raided by neighboring slot states there is still some good news. Keeneland handle was up for the spring meet. Other tracks who have tried to do some player friendly things, like Tampa (lowered rake again this season) and Gulfstream, had some nice 2011 handle increases.
If somehow some positive change is seen in California and other tracks (like Pennsylvania's; and continued momentum in Florida for the fall/winter), we might have a good second half. However, with the recent headlines coming out of California where stakeholders are clinging to their anti-customer policies, that simply looks like a pipe dream.
North America's leading filly trotter, Crys Dream, won easily last night at Mohawk in 155.3. She's something special.
Tonight is three divisions of the Burlington Stakes at Mohawk, featuring Big Jim, Shadyshark Hanover and others. It's a must-see for harness fans.