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When the Habit is Gone, It's Forgotten

It's been several years (2009)  since New Hampshire enacted a betting tax on winnings over $600 that had disastrous results on betting handle. And it has been several years since the tax was repealed (2011), hoping to regain the lost handle and revenue.
  • “It’s been two years since this tax was put in place, and hopefully, the people who left have not become too comfortable betting someplace else and will return to the track,” said Rockingham president and general manager Ed Callahan.
  •  “What they (the legislature) did to the racing industry in New Hampshire might be something that cannot be undone.
Those two men were prescient. People changed their behavior, and no, they have not come back to the track.

Handle in 2016 in New Hampshire was $53 million (versus about $140M in 2008).

Revenue to racetracks and bet takers in New Hampshire in 2016 was about $10 million (versus about $27 million in 2008).

There are a number of factors that come into play with regards to handle and track revenue (live dates at Rockingham for example). But, most certainly, stepping on your customers toes (when they have a choice, via the Internet or in a neighboring state), causes them to flee to greener pastures, or give up the game altogether.

Horse racing is a unique gambling game. If you leave the poker table for a year, you come back to it and begin again, right where you left off. If you leave betting the races, the return to it is not anywhere near the same.

Betting racing is a habit, and it always has been. When racetracks or alphabets change the way we bet, or push us away, there are deleterious long-term revenue consequences.

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