11/05/2011 2:05PM

Betting decline continues in October

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Wagering on races at U.S. tracks continued to slide in October, dropping 6.5 percent compared to October last year, even though purses distributed at U.S. racetracks jumped 5.3 percent, according to figures released by Equibase on Saturday.

The October slide extends stubborn declines in wagering that have plagued racing over the past three years after a long period of stagnation. For the year, wagering on U.S. races is down 7.5 percent compared to the first 10 months of 2010, according to the figures, and is now on pace to register the smallest total since 1995, unadjusted for inflation.

Wagering during the month dropped to $813.8 million from $870.2 million in October of last year, according to the figures. Race days remained static, at 471 in October of this year compared to 469 in October of last year. 

Purses at U.S. racetracks are heavily subsidized by slot machines, and several tracks with casinos, notably those in Florida, have boosted purses this year. According to the figures released on Saturday, U.S. racetracks distributed $101.4 million in purses this October, compared to $96.3 million in October of last year.

For the first 10 months of the year, purses are up 1.1 percent, from $875.7 million through October of last year to $885.4 million this year. Race days are down 4.7 percent, from 4,784 last year to 4,560 this year.